The City’s newest sports franchise may not have a roster yet, but the San Francisco Bulls have a new assistant coach who brings NHL experience to the minor league hockey team.
Tom Pederson played for the San Jose Sharks for four seasons and had “a cup of coffee with the Toronto Maple Leafs” before retiring in 1997. Joining the Bulls means a return to the Cow Palace, where the Sharks played during his first season with the team, in 1992-93.
While he said the Cow Palace hasn’t changed much in those 20 years, the game has, with new rules handed down from the NHL designed to decrease the bruising element and create a more entertaining product on the ice. He plans to develop the Bulls with that in mind.
“I’d like to have a very fast team and a physical team,” he said. “Which, to me, is exciting for fans to watch. You can’t have a bunch of big guys lumbering around out there. Hockey’s way too fast and dynamic.”
A defenseman during his career, Pederson expects to coach special teams for the Bulls, though without players, there isn’t much for him to do just yet. The team has several players lined up to sign, but cannot make official announcements until July.
Until then, Pederson is focusing on his other business, Green Biscuit, which produces a special puck designed to help hockey players develop on the ice.
“My product is not really designed for shooting,” he said. “It’s designed for the saucer pass, one-touch pass and toe drag. Those are three puck skills that every hockey player at some points needs to have or they need to move on to a different sport.”
He grew up in Minnesota, where hockey is a way of life and he estimated there were 20 ice rinks within 15 miles of his house. That provides a stark contrast to the Bay Area, where the tools needed to run a rink are more expensive, meaning fewer rinks for a much larger population.
That hasn’t stopped him from hoping to see plenty of locals at the team’s open tryout in September.
“I think people may be surprised at what local talent potentially could make our hockey team,” he said.
In the meantime, president, general manager and coach Pat Curcio is working to improve the game experience for the fans, including an upgrade for the scoreboard at the Cow Palace and trying to find an NHL team to partner with.