The Duluth Clydesdales are in a very tough spot. Between a rock and a hard place would be an understatement.
On Tuesday January 22nd, the Superior International Junior Hockey League revoked the Clydesdales membership. This was not a suspension for the remainder of the season, but a complete and final revocation.
TJHN has spoken to Butch Williams several times since rumors began swirling last week that the Clydesdales may be folding. Williams has continuously stated that he is trying to find a way for the Clydesdales to continue on this year and in the future.
Williams was only recently provided with the offical notice from the SIJHL. Attorneys for the Clydesdales are preparing an appeal to the SIJHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.
According to Williams the SIJHL’s bylaws are so loosely framed that many legal questions remain. The SIJHL is in effect a third party forcing the Clydesdales to break contracts with players, the arena and sponsors that are otherwise binding agreements. The issue of third party liability on the part of the SIJHL is a real one for the league.
Until yesterday, the Clydesdales had the minimum amount of players required to put a team on the ice according to Hockey Canada rules. The league, in what would appear to be a move based upon $1500.00 being owed to the league, revoked the membership which then triggered three players to leave. This now, based upon the SIJHL action makes the Clydesdales unable to put a team on the ice.
Is $1500.00 enough money to kick a team out of a league? If it is then the league needs to look at its own finances.
Because of the chain of events, players will be due refunds of tuition. Who is responsible for those refunds? The team did not cancell their season, they have stated they want to play on, and are attempting to do so. Who is responsible for refunds to sponsors? Again, the team did not cancell the season. Who is responsible for arena lease payments?
Is there an indemnification clause in the franchise agreements holding the league harmless for any damages they may cause? Are other teams in the league able to claim damages against the league or the Clydesdales or both?
These are just some of the many questions to be asked. Because of the speed in which these actions were taken its doubtful that anyone has the answers or thought about the possible reprecussions before acting.