Cliff Rucker, a converted hockey fan and business man, is in the throws of a bid to bring the ECHL to Worcester. He is meeting with the ECHL Board of Governors to hear their decision on the matter in the coming days. Why is this important? Simply put, it demonstrates the potential hoops that Oklahoma City would need to jump in order to bring the East Coast Hockey League (wink wink) to the Sooner State.
Terms and paperwork were due December 1st for those cities and investors looking to add to the total number of ECHL destinations. Currently riding at 28, the goal is to be at 30 by next season to align themselves properly with their AHL and NHL counterparts.
Lately, Rucker has been in the city constantly and has meetings scheduled through 3 p.m. Wednesday. He will fly to Kalamazoo that night and meet informally with the executive Board of Governors on Thursday, then make his final pitch the next day.
While the ECHL has been cooperative, informative and supportive of his bid to land an expansion franchise, Rucker said, he heads to Michigan with no guarantee he will come home with a franchise.
“Nobody has told me, ‘Hey Cliff — don’t worry.’ ”
So, he is a little worried.
With a date, time, and place now set for the meeting, Rucker will wait to hear the fate of pucks dropping in Worcester by next season. If the transaction is officially approved, there will be room for the addition of one more team.
The ECHL currently has 28 teams and has capped its membership at 30 to coincide with the makeup of both the National Hockey League and American Hockey League. Rucker is not aware of any other applications to join the ECHL that might be voted on Friday but said that does not mean there are not any others.
“It’s blind, like a job interview,” he said. “You don’t know who else is applying.”
While Rucker has interviewed potential employees, he will make the trip to Kalamzoo on his own.
“I’ve been pretty much an army of one for quite some time now,” he said.
If there is any truth to the rumors that the Dallas Stars might be issuing a change to their ECHL ties, this might be the most important week to keep an eye on things. With no official word being given by the city, its leaders or on its agendas — we remain hopeful. That’s enough for now.