|Ice Hockey Spotlight:
Barber & Bialowas Named First Two Inductees into Phantoms Hall of Fame
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
By Al Cohen
Philadelphia Phantoms Correspondent
The Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League today announced that former head coach Bill Barber and legendary tough guy Frank "The Animal" Bialowas have been selected as the first two members of the team's Hall of Fame. The Phantoms will hold a special Hall of Fame induction ceremony prior to their game on Sunday, Jan. 9 at 5:05 p.m. vs. the Albany River Rats at the Wachovia Spectrum.
"For our inaugural Hall of Fame Night, we looked to induct two people who really epitomized the Phantoms image," said Chief Operating Officer Frank Miceli, who has been with the team since its inaugural season. "Bill Barber brought credibility to the team, not only because of his great NHL career, but because he established the standard of being a Phantom both on and off the ice. Frank Bialowas is arguably the most popular player in our history for living up to his nickname on the ice, and for building a strong presence in the community."
A 1990 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Barber was the Phantoms' first-ever head coach when the team joined the AHL in 1996-97. Under his direction, Philadelphia became an instant force in the league, finishing its inaugural season with the AHL's best record, home record and attendance. The Phantoms again topped the league in all three categories in 1997-98 before taking it a step further and capturing the Calder Cup title in just their second year of existence. Barber won another division title in 1998-99 and twice served as head coach at the AHL All-Star Classic before joining the Philadelphia Flyers' coaching staff in July 2000.
"This is a class organization, and my family and I are completely thrilled with this recognition," said Barber, who is currently the director of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Lightning. "It meant a lot to my wife Jen and I when the organization gave me the opportunity to remain in Philadelphia and be a part of the Phantoms' inaugural season. I took a lot of pride in the job and had the privilege of getting to coach and be with a lot of great players, and it is especially gratifying to see one of them (current head coach John Stevens) thriving with the team now. This is an incredible honor."
One of the most popular players in Phantoms history, Bialowas was the club's top enforcer from 1996-99. The 5-11 forward was acquired from the Washington Capitals organization in July 1996 and immediately paid dividends by leading the Phantoms in penalty minutes and being named the first-ever Fans Choice Award winner. Bialowas again topped Philadelphia in PIM in 1997-98 and helped the team capture its first Calder Cup title that spring. In 156 career games as a Phantom, Bialowas compiled 28 points (12G, 16A) and 555 penalty minutes.
"I am very honored to be among the first two Phantoms Hall of Fame inductees," said Bialowas, who still lives in the area and serves as a site manager for American Tower. "The three years I spent with the team was a great period in my life. Being a part of the inaugural team in 1996 and then winning the Calder Cup a year later was an awesome experience. I can't wait to see Billy (Barber) again, as well as all my old friends down at the Spectrum."