The buzz words when it comes to Oklahoma City and the its future in the hockey world are two-fold – any and every. By that, we as fans, look for any and every opportunity to pull out sweet nectar from articles, podcasts, radio interviews, and TV spots praying for a pleasant, and tasty bit of hope. Sometimes we are disppointed by the lack of news, and every once in a while we climb the fire escape towards the top of a Bricktown brownstone and bellow a long, but proud “HOORAY”.
To that end, ECHL head honcho Commissioner Brian McKenna had a brief mention of Oklahoma City in a recent article posted online via The Times Union in Albany, New York. The article mainly honed in on the future of the Albany Devils including the recent arena lease, but as a footnote he mentions two other cities that might enter the ECHL fray. (read full article here)
ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna, who was present Friday at news conferences in both Glens Falls and Manchester, said the league finalized its roster last week and will remain at 28 teams. He said the league is hoping to get to 30, matching the total of the NHL and AHL, likely in time for the 2016-17 season.
“We’ve had expressions of interest (from Worcester and Oklahoma City), but nothing that could be brought to us quickly enough,” McKenna said. “In other words, putting together the ownership, getting a lease in place, getting all components in place in order to react in time for the ’15-’16 season.”
All signs point to Oklahoma City still being a viable candidate for hockey rather than the puck-less ghost town some assume it might become. This is huge. Not only do we get legit confirmation of an owner dealing with Oklahoma City, but perhaps an actual plan.
The huge hurdle remains the city of OKC, and their co-habitation with hockey, which has turned sour in recent years with Prodigal LLC at the helm. As the city and Prodigal end their tenure in the Cox Center, a new tenant could move in, just not quickly enough to join the 28 team ECHL in 15-16.
Neither myself, nor most OKC hockey fans assumed that things would just fall in to place. Any owner, local or otherwise, is gonna have to convince the city and fans that they are putting together a viable product. One that is potent, affordable, entertaining, and certainly not the OKC Barons v2.0. Why? Identity. Five years has created an awful lot of low-attendance / fan fatigue in the eyes of many. Proving you can return OKC to a successful hockey town is going to take work, but it isn’t beyond impossible.