Sources are reporting to TJHN that the minor pro circuit the Central Hockey League is possibly on the brink of collapse.
The Quad City Mallards have been operated and funded by the league for this season. While good leadership is in place now, and attendance is up, the team is still reportedly operating in the red.
The Bloomington Blaze are not only operating in the red, but sources are informing TJHN that the league is now operating the team after Sandy Hunnewell-Vitale has abandoned the Central Hockey League Team. Yes, just left town owing money and the league is now trying to clean it up. David Holt, Blaze General Manager is now allegedly the owner of the MWJHL’s team in Bloomington after that team was also abandoned. A quick look at the team pages shows no more evidence of the Hunnewell-Vitale Family. http://www.bloomingtonblaze.com/front-office-staff/
This is not the first trip around the block for the Hunnewell-Vitale family as they did almost the same thing with a project in Muskegon just a few years ago.
The Tulsa Oilers are also said to be talking to the NAHL and USHL, investigating all avenues of what one source termed “escape”.
An email being sent around is saying; “A Central Hockey League team in the southwest US has made a minority ownership position available and I’d like to speak with you about it if you have the time. The team has a strong relationship with the local community and has performed well over the years. The current ownership group is very strong and has holdings in the NBA, MLB and Minor League Baseball.”
TJHN has learned that other teams in the league are now talking to the ECHL as well as junior leagues to examine their options for the future. With this information, one would have to believe that planned expansion into St. Charles MO, and Brampton Ontario have to be seen as less than timely. Another rumored franchise in Wyoming does not appear likely.
If the rumors are all to be believed, it is not likely that the CHL will see too many more seasons. With several prime markets the USHL and NAHL could not only expand, be expand into markets with long hockey traditions.
When the CHL lost its agreement with the ECHL which amounted to a toster protection agreement, the end of days horn began to blow. Contiued team defections to other leagues look to only increase. The next six to eight weeks will determine the fate of the CHL and the opportunity for leagues to capture some of those markets.
TJHN will update this story as it impacts junior hockey.
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