The year was 1963 and while junior hockey was alive in Guelph as a "farm" team for the NHL`s New York Rangers, team`s existence was in jeopardy due to financial difficulty. A local business entrepreneur, Eugene George, was approached by the NY Rangers about moving the team to Kitchener in hopes of building a more stable junior environment.
George, along with fellow friends, spearheaded an aggressive community attack that saw the team meet its expectations and ice a junior team in Kitchener. The first five years saw the team roll along with a take-charge leader in George until the NHL collectively agreed to drop its "sponsorship style" of junior teams in 1967. The New York Rangers then offered the team to Mr. George for $1, a token receipt to assume the financial and overall responsibility of the team from then on. The modest George, realizing the community importance of the Kitchener Rangers, instead turned the team over to the community; in essence, to its season ticket subscribers.
And so, the Rangers had landed as a community owned team. George and fellow colleagues strategically set up a volunteer Directorship, including a 40-person Board of Directors to which nine Executive Committee positions were elected for key duties including Finances, Ticket and Sponsorship Sales, Policies, and a Hockey Committee, among others.
This structure remained unchanged until 1996 when the organization created full time sales and marketing positions and removed Ticket sales and Sponsorship Sales responsibilities from its volunteer Directors. As the organization looked to its future and the changing landscape in sports, it made a further strategic change in 2002 with the appointment of a full time Chief Operating Officer and Governor who became responsible for the overall operation of the team`s operations and represented the Rangers on the Ontario Hockey League Board of Directors.
These changes have allowed the volunteer Directors to focus their attention on long term planning and governance of what has become one of the most valuable franchises in the Canadian Hockey League.
Today, the Rangers continue to enjoy great success at the turnstiles as an OHL attendance leader. The team has set record attendance for 11 consecutive years and averaged in excess of 100% capacity crowds for 175 consecutive games covering over five seasons.
Throughout the years, the Rangers have had a variety of different uniform looks. When the Rangers first appeared in Kitchener, their sweater design mimicked the New York Rangers, with the Ranger letters set diagonally across the sweater.
This continued as the sweater design until 1990 when the Rangers decided to incorporate a character into their uniform to boost their marketing efforts toward a family atmosphere and `break away` from the classic New York Rangers design. The initial design had soon to be mascot Tex riding on a horse. That original design was modified on two different occasions after its initial introduction in 1990 only to be modified again in 1995 when the Rangers re-designed the logo and removed the horse from the crest. The Rangers, with the addition of mascot Tex, became among the first OHL teams to have a mascot. The Rangers did however have its first mascot `Lone Ranger` for a brief period in the `70`s.
Recognizing the "Tradition" that the team had established since its birth in 1963, the Rangers returned to their classic style sweaters during the 2000-2001 season. For the first time in over 10 years, the Rangers dawned the classic sweaters; very fitting as the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
The entire Rangers organization understands its responsibilities to our community and its founder, Eugene George as we continue our quest for success and continuing Eugene George`s dream of junior hockey in Kitchener. Kitchener Rangers hockey; a team for its community just the way Eugene George envisioned it.