As fans of the Central Hockey League, every year seems as if many teams are dealing with issues about the continued viability of their team. After all, only Missouri made money last year and even deep pockets owners, who are typically successful businessmen, don't like losing money unless they can see light at the end of the tunnel. It appears some of the owners have figured out that the light at the end of the tunnel is really a train headed at them. So let's take a look at where things stand, the good, the bad and the ugly but in a different order than normal.
- The Denver Cutthroats announced yesterday they were suspending operations for the 2014-2015 season. According to the press release the team will look to secure additional investors with the hope of returning for the 2015-2016 season. Can't say this was a shock as rumors were swirling for weeks that they had not made their mandatory payments to the league. All players signed to contracts for the upcoming season immediately became free agents. Within a matter of minutes after the formal announcement the Cutthroats would not play next year, Missouri announced Garett Bembridge, Denver's leading scorer and CHL MVP last year had signed with the Mavericks.
- Yesterday afternoon it became apparent the Arizona Sundogs would also not play in the CHL for the upcoming season. While a formal announcement has not been issued by the league, players have confirmed they have been told to start looking for jobs, front office personnel have confirmed the team will not play and coaches/executives/owners from other teams have acknowledged Arizona will suspend operations for 2014-2015. The formal announcement should be issued today. Again, not a big surprise as rumors have been around since before the summer meeting.
- There is a lot of fallout from Denver and Arizona suspending operations but Tommy Daniels said it best, "For most its message board material and lots of speculation. For me it's
worrying about close friends and how this will affect their lives." In addition to the over twenty players who now have to try to find jobs late in the recruiting season the front office personnel are out of jobs. These were understaffed organizations to begin with which meant everyone in the front office was working their butts off to help the team survive. These are the folks that are really impacted. And don't forget about the ushers, concession workers, the cleanup crew, and many others whose livelihood depended on the hockey team. A sad time indeed.
- It is obvious how important loyal, enthusiastic, fans are to a hockey team. I call them the "super fans" who invest their time, money and energy with their favorite team. They know the players plus their wives and children, they attend and support off ice events. Your heart goes out to these folks who have suddenly had the rug pulled out from under them.
- The scary thing is the final shoe may not have dropped on this whole situation as decisions are still being made that could have additional negative impacts. Let's hope the worst is now public.
- With three teams (don't forget St. Charles) not returning from last year the maximum (if nothing else happens) number of teams in the CHL will be seven. Certainly doable from a scheduling standpoint but with unbalanced schedules, teams that are in close proximity will end up playing each other over 15 times which is never ideal. And while you might think not having to make the long trip to Arizona will be a big money saver for the remaining teams it also probably means an extra trip to Brampton which will wipe out any Arizona savings.
- Most hockey experts would acknowledge the game would be better off with one AA league rather than the two that currently exist. You also hear all of the time it isn't a matter of "if" but "when" the CHL & ECHL become one league. If any good can come out of the current turmoil in the CHL it would be moving to one league. For CHL fans the sooner this can happen the better. Most say it is impossible for the upcoming season but stranger things have happened. Let's at least hope it happens for the 2015-2016 season.
- With three less teams in the CHL the remaining teams will be stronger on the ice with all of the free agent talent now looking for new homes. The CHL coaches have to be burning up the phone lines trying to recruit players from Denver and Arizona. The top goal scorer in the CHL last year was Garett Bembridge and he was quickly snapped up by the Missouri Mavericks. The number three goal scorer in the CHL from last year with 34 goals was Arizona's Kevin Baker. He would be a nice fit in Allen.
- There is no doubt there will be hockey in Allen this season and while the schedule is being reworked all indications are the home opener will be October 24th. Another banner raising event you don't want to miss.
- The Allen Americans will host an open house this Saturday (August 23) from 10:00 - 2:00 and it will be worth attending. Steve Martinson will be speaking and answering questions from 11:00 - 12:00. With all that is going on it should be very informative. I will be the emcee for the hour with Martinson and will post what he has to say on the blog for those that aren't able to attend. If you have questions you would like me to ask coach Martinson please send them to me through social media or put them in the comments section at the end of this post.
- Trevor Ludwig will be at the open house to sign autographs (12:00 - 1:00) and prior to that at noon will reveal the number he will be wearing for next season based on the fan vote. It is not too late to vote. All you need to do is send an email to email@example.com with the number you want Trevor to wear. The choices are #16, #17, & #47. If you select the winning number (Las Vegas odds has #17 as the winner) you will have a chance to win one of his jerseys.
- The player introduction posts on all of the new players coming to Allen this season have been well received and there are two more that are almost completed. Thanks really go to the players who take the time to answer all of the questions so everyone can get to know them both personally and professionally. Look for "30 Questions" with Travis Ouellette and Gary Steffes to be posted in the next few days.
With all that is happening thought you might enjoy some of these:
- Our only security is our ability to change
- The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic
- There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to
conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the
introduction of a new order of things
- Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future
- Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is
based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers
- If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got
- If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading
- If there is no struggle, there is no progress