Eastern Hockey League (1980)
Born: August 1980 – EHL expansion franchise.
Died: November 11, 1980 – The Hornets fold in midseason.
Arena: State Fairgrounds Coliseum
Owner: Gaetan Gagne
The Syracuse Hornets were an ill-fated minor league hockey team that lasted just 10 games in the fall of 1980 before going out of business. The club, owned by local contractor Gaetan Gagne, joined the Eastern Hockey League as an expansion franchise in the summer of 1980. The Hornets replaced the departing Syracuse Firebirds (1979-1980) of the higher-level American Hockey League. But the Hornets did not take over the Firebirds’ old lease at the Onondaga County War Memorial, the longtime home of pro hockey in Syracuse. Instead the Hornets would play at the smaller, cheaper State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
The Hornets were unable to secure a parent club affiliation with an NHL team. This left Head Coach and General Manager Bill Horton, a former Syracuse Blazers player, to compile an independent roster of castoffs and tryout camp wanna-bes. Even at the relatively low level of competition in the EHL, the Hornets were desperately outclassed. They went o-9-1 in the first ten games of the season, yielding an obscene 99 goals.
The Hornets’ financial situation was equally desperate. The team sold fewer than 100 season tickets and crowds at the Coliseum numbered in the hundreds. In early November, the team ran out of funds and did not appear for road games in Baltimore and Salem, Virginia. A last ditch effort to move the Hornets to Utica fell through and the Hornets closed their doors on November 11, 1980. The team played only 10 of 72 scheduled games and folded without ever celebrating a win.