by Vincent Juico
A then 17-year-old AJ Galante becoming the President and General Manager of his own hockey team. Something out of a Disney movie but it ain’t no Disney film and AJ ain’t no Disney character.
It’s neither the fourth installment nor a reboot of Mighty Ducks. AJ Galante is a real person and his team’s story is both unique and incredible. Galante is the breakout star of the Netflix sports documentary, “Untold: Crime and Penalties”.
That AJ let his creative juices flow and was out of the box with the team is an understatement. We had a conversation with the former Trashers President and GM last weekend where he narrated how he signed up the players he signed up, the lessons and takeaways from the two seasons with the Trashers, the other gimmicks he should’ve tried, to create a “Family” atmosphere at the games.
The Trashers were a “physical” team and that’s putting it mildly. They made the Philadelphia Flyers of the ’70s and the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys of the late 80’s look like choir boys.
Every game was like either a WWF match or an episode of UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter”. I was surprised there were no extracurricular activities among the players during practices.
AJ wouldn’t change a thing if he had to do it all over again. Would things have been different if he were a little bit older when he got the team? Maybe, but I guess we’ll never know.
The Trashers got to the playoffs in the team’s two years of existence, reaching the finals in their second and last year, losing to the Kalamazoo Wings. They would’ve won the title in their third season if it happened.
We brought up a few gimmick suggestions for Mr. Galante, one was to have one of the fans from section 102 lace ‘em up then put on some Trasher threads then start a few fights once the puck falls on the ice.
Another one was to have WWF professional wrestler put on some skates and the uniform then away he goes with his hands landing on an opposing player’s face.
A brilliant marketing and public relations ploy by the youthful former team executive was to hire Brent Gretzky. If the last name sounds familiar, it is because Brent is the brother of arguably the greatest NHL player ever, Wayne Gretzky. AJ never got to talk to the “Great One” but if working with his brother is the closest you’ll ever get to an ice hockey icon, I’ll take it.
These days, AJ manages and promotes his boxers, most of whom are contenders in their respective weight divisions. He’s been in boxing since 2011, we obviously saw his passion, enthusiasm, and fervor for the sweet science and this writer doesn’t see it wane anytime soon.
Before the interview, my impression and sense of the man was that he is street-smart and will work his hardest to where he wants to be in life. He won’t let his kids get into boxing unless for either exercise or recreation but, he will allow them to take up the sport of hockey.
As proof of how passionate and down-to-earth this guy is about his sport and his Trashers then, even as President and GM, the former high school hockey player would wear those threads and put the skates on and start throwing punches to get things started.
If you’re an opposing team then, the movie “Remember the Titans” would have a sequel and that would be, “Remember the Trashers”, the bad boys of hockey.