If you’ve seen Untold: Crime & Penalties, the latest episode of Maclain and Chapman Way’s Untold sports docuseries, you may be curious to learn more about AJ Galante, who became general manager of the now-defunct minor-league hockey team the Danbury Trashers when he was just 17 years old.
AJ was given this title by his father, waste disposal mogul Jimmy Galante, when he bought the UHL team in 2004 and brought it to their home state of Connecticut. He named the team the Trashers as an homage to the family business.
As the doc explains, the elder Galante had given AJ the job of general manager to cheer him up after an on-ice injury ended his own short-lived hockey career in high school. But AJ quickly took to his new job and became known for bolstering the team’s popularity and boosting game attendance by promoting its bad-boy image. According to a 2005 New York Times story about the team, it was AJ who dubbed the Trashers “the Evil Empire.” Its theme song? “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns and Roses. Its motto? “Bad Boys Talkin’ Trash.”
As the slogan suggests, the team soon began attracting media attention over their frequent brawls on the ice, the doc explains. The most notable saw one of the Trasher’s star players, Brad Wingfield, sustain a broken leg after getting into an on-ice fight with Josh Elzinga of the Kalamazoo Wings.
AJ’s father and the team’s owner, Jimmy Galante, was arrested and charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault after he was accused of hitting referee James Harper later on during that same game, according to the New York Times. The charges against Galante were dropped and he ultimately only received a fine from the league for leaving his skybox and entering a prohibited area, according to the Greenwich Time, while the referee was given a five-game suspension over the scuffle.
The incident came at a time when violence in sports was being hotly debated. The New York Times also noted that on the very same day that Galante pleaded not guilty to hitting Harper, five NBA players were charged by a Michigan prosecutor for their involvement in the famous Pistons-Pacers brawl that inspired the first episode in Netflix’s Untold series, Malice at the Palace.
AJ Galante, who was a freshman business major at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. at the time, told the Times in 2005 that the on-ice violence was all part of the Trasher’s appeal.
“We have a tough team, but we’re also putting more pucks in the net than anyone else,” he said. “It’s like Nascar racing. People want to see the crashes, not the same guys going around and around the track. Basically, we know what people want to see.”
Fifteen years have passed since the Danbury Trashers disbanded in 2006 as a result of the federal investigation that landed Jimmy Galante in prison after he pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, tax fraud and wire fraud.
Now, the younger Galante has embraced boxing instead of hockey. As Galante explains in the doc, he decided to open his own business after years of working as a truck driver while his father was in prison. Today, his father is once again a free man, and AJ now owns a boxing gym called Champs Boxing Club in Danbury.
Untold: Crime & Penalties is now streaming on Netflix. Main Image: AJ Galante pictured in Untold: Crime & Penalties courtesy of Netflix.