Condors

Tuesday, Sep 11 2012 11:08 PM

'Bielieber' or not, Condors extend offer to pop star

BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

Will teenage multi-millionaire singing sensation Justin Bieber give it all up to play minor league hockey?

The Bakersfield Condors are giving him that opportunity.

The Condors offered the pop phenom an amateur tryout agreement for the upcoming ECHL hockey season Tuesday, the news hitting both the hockey and pop worlds like a tsunami. Sports and entertainment outlets picked up on the press release, via Twitter, and within 30 minutes "Bieliebers" (Justin Bieber fans) overloaded the Condors' website and it crashed.

That's star power.

Which is precisely why the Condors made the offer.

Besides, Bieber, like Condors coach Matt O'Dette is Canadian. And Bieber can skate.

Bieber, 18, is a huge hockey fan and practiced with the Toronto Maple Leafs in December.

"Very rarely do you see this combination of skill and toughness," said O'Dette in a press release, tongue clearly planted in his cheek. "We share a common Canadian heritage since we both hail from Ontario. I've scouted some video of him online skating with my hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I think he could provide some elusive speed up front for us. Plus, he's a right-handed shot which we've been looking to add. I think if we paired him on a line with (Robby) Dee and (Peter) Boyd we'd be tough to beat."

In a more serious vein, O'Dette said he did come up with the idea during a meeting with the front office crew.

"Our marketing machine up there has its wheels spinning," he said. "I can't remember how it came up but I said we should give a tryout to Bieber. We were probably talking Twitter or marketing ideas. He has 17 million Twitter followers and growing daily."

And yes, count O'Dette as one of those 17-million followers.

"When I mentioned it, everyone's light bulbs popped above their heads," O'Dette said. "I said, 'geez, what have I started?'"

The Condors offered up Charlie Sheen Night in 2011 (Sheen was a no-show) but got plenty of publicity.

The Justin Bieber Believe Tour might interfere with the hockey season, but it could be just the ticket to a tryout. The tour stops at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 2 and 3 and is in Fresno on Oct. 5. That leaves Oct. 4 open for a stop in Condorstown, about a week into training camp.

"We'd let him practice with us, if he wanted to give her a role for a game, why not?" O'Dette said. "Maybe throw him out there if we went to a shootout."

The Condors opening training camp on Sept. 29 and play their first preseason game against Stockton at Rabobank Arena on Oct. 5.

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