August 25 in Indianapolis hockey history:
1999: The Indianapolis Ice – slated to play their first season in the Central Hockey League – are sold to a group of local entrepreneurs led by Gary Pedigo, Jim Hallett and Ed Russell. The team had previously been owned by Horn Chen, who later reacquire the team after the CHL merged with the Western Professional Hockey League.
Happy birthday to …
Jacques Demers: Racers coach from 1975-77. He was the team’s Director of Player Personnel early in the 1975-76 season when coach Gerry Moore was fired after an Oct. 18 loss to the Denver Spurs, and Demers was made the team’s head coach that evening. The Racers went 70-72-14 under his tutelage, won the WHA’s East Division title in 1975-76 — the first of four division titles his teams won — and made their only two playoff appearances under Demers. The team also went 8-8 in the postseason under his direction. Demers left the Racers in 1977 to coach the Cincinnati Stingers, and later, the Quebec Nordiques. He also served as the head coach of the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. He led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1993, and coached in three straight Western Conference Finals from 1986-88 with the Blues and Red Wings. He was the NHL’s Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1988 with the Red Wings – the only coach in NHL history to win the award in back-to-back seasons. His total coaching record in the NHL & WHA was 553-612-162. He also served as the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998-99. He is a member of the WHA Hall of Fame. Demers currently is a member of the Canadian Parliament. A native of Montreal, he is 73.
John French: Left wing for the Racers in 1977-78. He had nine goals and eight assists in 74 games for the Racers. He played six WHA seasons for the New England Whalers, San Diego Mariners and Racers from 1972-78, with three 20-goal seasons. In total, he had 108 goals and 192 assists in 420 WHA games. He retired after playing the 1978-79 season in the AHL. A native of Orilla, Ont., he is 67.
Frank Bialowas: Left wing for the Ice in their final IHL season, 1998-99. He was a late-season acquisition and scored a goal in 16 games for the Ice. A feared fighter, “The Animal” played four NHL games for the Maple Leafs in 1994 and nine full minor pro seasons, tallying triple-digit PIMs eight times before hanging the skates up in 2000. He also played briefly from 2004-06. A native of Winnipeg, he is 47.