Former Sharks, Cavaliers Owner George Gund III Passes Away At 75
GEORGE GUND III, who had “the vision to see the potential for hockey's success in the Silicon Valley and then made it happen as the Sharks' original owner, died of cancer” yesterday in Palm Springs, Calif., at 75, according to David Pollak of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Gund, who sold the team in ‘02, may have been “one of the last free-spirited individualists to own a hockey franchise in an increasingly corporate era.” The Sharks will “honor Gund's memory with a decal bearing his initials -- GGIII -- on player helmets during the 2012-13 season.” Those initials also will “appear on a jersey patch.” In the late ‘80s, Gund and his brother, GORDON, owned both the Cavaliers and former NHL Minnesota North Stars. When their “effort to move the North Stars elsewhere failed, the Gunds cut a deal in 1990 to sell that team in exchange for the right to place a franchise in the Bay Area, where George Gund had established a San Francisco home decades earlier.” After he “owned the team for more than a decade, Gund was told by advisers that he needed to sell the franchise.” He asked Prospective Coyotes Owner and former Sharks CEO GREG JAMISON to “round up local investors who would keep the Sharks in San Jose, which Jamison did in 2002, staying on as CEO until 2010” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/16). In Cleveland, Pat Galbincea noted the Gunds bought the Cavaliers from TED STEPIEN in ‘83 for $20M. They sold the team in ‘05 to DAN GILBERT. George Gund also “owned the Cleveland Barons hockey team, along with Gordon, which played two seasons at the old Richfield Coliseum, until merging with the Minnesota North Stars in the summer of 1978.” Former Cavs radio and TV announcer JOE TAIT said, “He wasn't big into basketball like Gordon was. George had more of a passing interest” (CLEVELAND.com, 1/15).
ONE OF A KIND: In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes, “Owners of professional sports teams are always interesting people. But I have never met one who dwelled in even the same hemisphere of unconventionality as Gund.” Gund was “beyond quirky.” However, he also was “one of the most sincere and unpretentious people I've ever met, inside or outside sports.” Gund “might have been too nice of an owner, in fact.” He could be “easily talked into giving people too many chances and paying them too much money” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/16).