SIOUX CITY -- After listening to Jim Kronschnabel's heartfelt list of people he wished to thank after eight years of ownership with the Sioux City Musketeers, Donn Lux wondered how he would be able to follow.
Lux heads a new ownership group introduced during a press conference Friday afternoon at the Tyson Events Center. The ownership transfer of the Musketeers to the 49-year old Lux, the chairman and chief executive officer of Luxco, Inc., was approved Thursday by the Board of Governors of the United States Hockey League.
"This is a group that's passionate about hockey and dedicated to keeping hockey in Sioux City," Kronschnabel said. "When I thought about an ownership group, one of the requirements I had was that this was a group that believed in the USHL and will support the young men who play here. We have a great ownership group here that will do great things. With this group, I scored in the last second of overtime."
"We plan to remain here in the wonderful environment that Sioux City is," said Lux, whose business is located in St. Louis. "This is one of the USHL's original franchises and there are no plans to move it. The biggest reason why we're doing this is because we love the game of hockey. It forces an individual to learn how to be a little boy to a young man who hopes to play for an NCAA team to the NHL. The (USHL) is the No. 1 league in terms of player development."
Luxco, Lux's company, is a manufacturer, bottler, processor and distributor of beverage alcohol products in both the domestic and international marketplaces. He holds an master's degree in business administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a bachelor's degree in business from Tulane University.
Lux has two key associates who will help operate the Musketeers -- Craig Woodcroft and Lloyd Ney. The trio will remain in St. Louis, but will work closely with the Musketeers' staff.
Woodcroft, 40, the founder and CEO of the Northern Edge Elite Hockey School, Inc., based in St. Louis, will work with Musketeers' general manager/head coach Luke Strand with hockey operations. Woodcroft is a 1991 graduate of Colgate where he played forward for the university's hockey team and was drafted by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. He later played professional hockey in Europe and was a member of the Canadian team that played in the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Ney, 36, is the general manager of the Hardees Iceplex in Chesterfield, Mo., and is also the president of The Coliseum Group, a sports management complany specializing in facility operations, event production and management. Ney will work with Musketeers' sales manager Rich Zaber.
"We first saw this team play last fall," said Lux. "We looked at other franchises, but working with Jim and his staff, we figured this is where we wanted to own a team. The fact that Aaron and the city worked out a lease arrangement makes it valuable. The lease has been extended three years and Jim's group has taken care of that for us."
Kronschnabel and Siouxland Sports purchased the Musketeers organization in 2002, the first year the USHL was recognized as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league. He served as the chairman for the USHL Board of Directors for three seasons (2006-09) as well as numerous league committees.
Under Kronschnabel and his staff, which also includes operations/ticket manager Tim Artz and Kristen Anderson, the director of housing, education and community relations, several traditional events started, such as the "Pink In The Rink". The rink ice was colored pink and Musketeers wore pink jerseys in a benefit for the Siouxland chapter of the Susan G. Komen For The Cure that supports funding for breast cancer research.
The Face-Off For Charity was also established as well as the Reading For Fun programs. The Musketeers hosted the 2006 USHL All-Star Game and started hosting the USHL's Fall Classic in 2007, an event that will continue in Sioux City through 2011.
"I'm very proud of what we have accomplished in the last eight years," said Kronschnabel. "The thing I'm most proud of is all the great young men who have come through here and continue to give back. There are a lot of great people who take care of these kids. They come here to grow up and get an education.
"Luke Strand is one of the best young hockey coaches in America. This team is not dead yet. At first, I didn't want to hold this press conference until the end of the season because I didn't want to be a distraction to this team, which has staged such a gallant effort battling for points for the playoffs. I want to be clear, I have not given up on this team."
Kronschnabel will remain as a consultant to the new ownership team through December of this year to insure a smooth transition of team and business operations.