As TJHN reported on May 22nd, (MWJHL’s Second Dream Season), the MWJHL’s Hartland Hounds are moving to Traverse City Michigan.
Sources in Traverse City have informed TJHN that this move has been in the planning stages since the start of last season. While the MWJHL was scheduled to have a team in Traverse City last season by the name of the Chohos, that team never got enough interest from players to get it beyond the concept stages.
The connection from the Hounds to Traverse city is a simple one. Scott Gardiner, listed as Associate Head Coach for the Hartland Hounds is a one time head coach of the former NAHL Traverse City North Stars and CEHL Traverse City Enforcers. Gardiner was also slated to be the owner of the Traverse City Cohos last season.
While the Hartland Hounds featured four Northern Michigan based players last season, it is unlikely they will receive much more player support from the Traverse City community. TJHN has reached out to players and parents from the area and most did not voice a favorable opinion of a pay to play team in the area. Many in the hockey community have voiced a negative opinion regarding the potential “tampering” with high school age players that could otherwise play for their schools.
Of other interest, Scott Gardiner is also listed as the MWJHL commissioner. The potential, and already perceived conflicts of interest of the Commissioner making, or being included in the decision-making process on issues that could effect his team are a hot topic of conversation among those in the hockey community.
While Traverse City is a very good hockey town in Northern Michigan, it is also a town that failed to support the NAHL. One would have to question the viability of a significantly lower level of play being supported in this community. While the Hounds were tremendously successful in the MWJHL last season, the level of play is viewed as being significantly lower than any other pay to play leagues in the United States.
TJHN will update this story as more information is made available.