NAHL Ownership Changes

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NAHL and NOJHL Ownership Changes

The worst kept secret in Junior Hockey is about to become reality.

After sorting through the disinformation being put out by some people involved, sources within the NAHL and NOJHL have informed TJHN that purchasers for Traverse City in the NAHL will be coming out of the NOJHL. Sources at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City have also stated that more than one group had been talking to the North Stars, but now it was only the Soo Eagles. Centre Ice sources also stated that another team in another league may be relocated to replace the departing North Stars. Adding fuel to the discussion, the Eagles are said to be very upset with a recent player suspension, one official using the phrase "last straw" when commenting about the action.

The Soo Eagles Ownership group has not yet signed the purchase agreement, however it is expected the sale will close once each team is eliminated from the playoffs. TJHN learned that although a relocation of St. Louis was also briefly considered, the North Stars franchise is now the only franchise they are looking at. Eagles ownership played the waiting game very well. The Soo was originally turned down as an NAHL location, all that changed when teams filed for dormancy, essentially forcing the NAHL into allowing the move in order to keep the franchise playing.

The NOJHL Soo Eagles would then be for sale. TJHN has also learned that there is a group already looking to make such a purchase. The same group is also looking at other teams in other leagues and could be forced into a purchase decision before the Soo situation clears itself up.

The Ownership of the Eagles is looking toward the NAHL as it thinks it povides better scouting opportunity and higher visibility than the NOJHL.

For the NOJHL, new owners and a new location could enhance the cross border rivalry and energize the fan base.

The issue to be considered for the relocation of Traverse City to the Soo is going to be left to the USA Hockey Junior Council. Is the sale of a USAH team to be considered an exigent circumstance allowing the Eagles to move the NAHL franchise more than 75 miles from its original location? On the other hand, if the NOJHL franchise is to move, it is also likely that the destination will be more than 75 miles from its original location. If USAH approves one then it almost would have to approve both franchise moves.

Another question lies with what is happening in Flint with the Michigan Warriors. Reports out of Flint say that all office and other equipment is already boxed and ready to be moved. If this is the case, the closest road game for the Soo will be Port Huron at close to 5.5 hours and Kalamazoo at 6 hours. That kind of travel will not be attractive when it comes to recruiting players for the Soo next season and beyond. Trips to Jamestown NY at 10 hours, and Chicago at 8 hours will be stumbling blocks to recruiting as well.

How will the other NAHL travel partners feel about their increased travel costs with fuel, tolls, and possible weather delays? Will there be another vote from the owners to approve the Soo and those additional expenses? Although the deal is all but done, there are still questions to be answered.

Stay tuned to TJHN as we attempt to bring you more on this story as it develops.

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