Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shocker: Wichita Owners To Buy Allen Americans - The "Silly Season" Is On

For my last daily blog post of the season (emphasis on daily) I wanted to share the rumors I have been hearing from different sources around the CHL. I want to emphasize NONE of the information below is from any team or the league office so it is rumor and conjecture on my part and could not be fact. It is information I have seen or heard from around the CHL and after all "silly season" is just that, a bunch of outrageous rumors with only a few pearls of truth mixed in.


I want to start with the Allen Americans as that is the team I know the best and it is well known that the team has been for sale for most of the season. A deal to transfer ownership to a new group has been completed according to many sources around the league. If you follow the messages boards and social media it has been pretty widely reported that the new majority owners of the Allen Americans will be the Steven brothers (Rodney, Brandon, Johnny)  who currently own the franchises in Wichita and Tulsa.  I have always been led to believe that when the team did change ownership it would be to a group as opposed to one entity and  part of the ownership group should/would include local presence. So my assumption would be there will be local ownership involved in the team as well. If the Steven brothers are the new majority owners of the team that will be a good thing for the organization as they are dedicated to winning and believe the on ice product is the key to financial success. The Steven brothers are young successful guys who own numerous health clubs and car lots in Wichita among their business holdings. They bought the Wichita franchise in 2011 and Tulsa in 2013. Their philosophy about building a successful franchise can be seen in their statements when they bought Tulsa last year. Here are some quotes from the Tulsa purchase. I have taken the liberty to substitute "Allen" for "Tulsa" in these quotes so you can see how they might approach things in Allen.
  "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the next chapter of Allen Americans hockey. This franchise has an outstanding history, an extremely loyal fan base, and one of the best arenas in the Central Hockey League. We are looking forward to working closely with the coach as well as the American's players and staff to make sure the team has everything it needs to be successful."
  "Our first priority is to put a strong, competitive team on the ice. We need to win consistently. These fans in Allen deserve to watch a playoff caliber team that will compete for championships."
   "We want to re-energize our existing fans but we also want to make a big push to reach new fans, to attract families, and to let everyone know that Allen Americans hockey is the very best entertainment value in this entire region."
From left to right Rodney, Johnny & Brandon Steven

 A press conference billed as an "End of Year Press Conference" was scheduled for today for the media only. The notification about the press conference was sent around 2:00 pm yesterday afternoon but at about 2:00 am this morning a message went out postponing the press conference because of a conflict for Coach Martinson. Since it is silly season I am guessing (I haven't been told this by anyone) new ownership was going to be discussed/announced/talked about at this press conference and some issue came up that caused the postponement. 

The most important questions to be answered by the new owners from my perspective is what changes will be made to the current staff. I have said on the blog before, Steve Martinson needs to be retained with a multi year deal and the same can be said for Richard Matvichuk. If the new owners are the Steven brothers they just gave Wichita coach Kevin McClelland a contract extension so it should not be a stretch to give the back to back championship coaches a multi year deal.

 Will the new owners favor a two coach team? What changes if any will be made in the front office? How will the team be run differently than in the past and what impact will that have on the recruitment and retention of top players? After all Allen has had the formula for success from the first year of the franchise.

For those that still think the ECHL is an option for Allen next year I would say no way, not going to happen. The driving force for that was a previous owner.

I want to say again nothing is certain until it is officially announced and while it seems based on all of the sources around the league saying this is a done deal until we hear something official from the Allen Americans anything can happen. After all, it is "silly season" in the CHL.


I know it is important to maintain at least a ten team league and that remains a question mark at this point. I have heard the same ownership group buying the Americans recently made a trip to Laredo to look at putting a team there but that didn't pan out. St. Charles is searching for new ownership and you hear several other places mentioned as possible expansion opportunities including  Louisville, Minnesota and another team in Canada among a bunch of others. Could the Brahmas be reactivated? Whether any new teams can be added for this coming season is doubtful but not impossible. You hear all of the time it is not too late to start up a new franchise but if you talk to most sales and marketing folks they will tell you it is already too late to do it right.

Then you hear other rumors (not substantiated as it is silly season) about teams like Rapid City, Denver and Arizona not playing in the league next year. The rumors include Rapid City going dark for a year and then moving to the ECHL or getting out of the CHL and coming back with a USHL franchise, Arizona being displaced by an AHL team, and Denver moving to another league. My personal feeling is all of these teams will be in the CHL next year and the league will do everything in its power to have a ten team league.

Most people that have been around long enough to know and understand the CHL business model  will tell you that it is not a matter of if but when the league will be forced to consolidate with the ECHL or more likely have some teams move to the ECHL, some to the SPHL and some to junior hockey. Rapid City Coach Joe Ferras mentioned recently in his year end meeting with fans that the Missouri Mavericks were the only profitable team in the CHL right now and the Chill lost 1.7 million dollars this year.

So there you have my perspective on the "silly season" and as always what transpires over the next couple months may or may not bear any resemblance to what is being talked about today. I can speak for most Allen fans and assume this applies to most of the fans that read this blog when the season comes around in October we will be "all in" supporting our teams no matter what happens during "silly season."

This will be my last daily blog post for the year. It has been something like 240 days straight and it is time for a break. I am like the players as I am taking a vacation (two weeks of fishing in Canada & Minnesota) and then will come back and hit the gym. In my case I will try and shed the twenty pounds I gained during the season by writing the blog in the morning instead of working out. I will still blog on an as needed basis as new information becomes available. If you are on Facebook or Twitter you can see whenever there is a new post on the blog by liking my page on Facebook at "Allen Americans Blog" or following me on Twitter at @allenamericans1. I will also put any new post up at which is a great place to get information about all teams in the CHL during the off season.

DID YOU KNOW: Since 1992 when the CHL was reestablished there have been over 40 different teams in the league. The Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder are the only two teams that have been in the league since 1992.

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