OKC Blazers forced to cancel Canadian road trip

Unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Blazers of the WSHL, circumstances have prevented them from participating in the Canadian road trip that they had planned involving teams from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and the North American Hockey League. The plan was to play seven games with six teams over nine days in September.

With the WSHL a part of the United Hockey Union, the hockey subsidiary of the Amateur Athletic Union USA, the teams in the SJHL, MJHL, and NAHL were reportedly told not to take part in the road trip as the Blazers were not a part of USA Hockey, or Hockey Canada. Unfortunately, the UHU is not recognized by either organization as an official hockey body, nor by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The move comes as a big blow to the Blazers and the other teams involved as many things were planned around the road trip. The Estevan Bruins were billing their two-game set against the Blazers as a return of Blazers head coach Tyler Fleck and assistant coach Marco Cefalo. Both played for the Bruins during their junior careers and were members of their championship team in 1998-99. The Bruins had been planning to use these games in a fundraising campaign as well.

A lot of the teams were excited at this prospect, as just having something different take place during the preseason. To have a team from Oklahoma head to Canada to take on these teams was going to be a special event for everyone involved to see a different team and a fresh level of play.

Amid the disappointment comes from the fact that it sounds like neither USA Hockey or Hockey Canada like the prospect of a team from another hockey organization playing one of their teams. While it’s true that the WSHL and NAHL are on the same tier of junior hockey now and can be looked at as rival leagues, it seems odd and silly that the Canadian teams would be told to back out as well.

 

I reached out for comment, and received this from an executive at Hockey Manitoba:

“The Blazers are not a member of USA [Hockey] and therefore not eligible to play against teams in Canada that are members of Hockey Canada. Participation of our members against non-sanctioned teams would result in loss of any insurance coverage and place our member teams in peril.”

“Insurance is only one of the benefits of membership.  We only allow members to participate against teams ‎that are registered with HC, USA or IIHF.”

“The primary reason is they are not sanctioned and if we allow our teams to participate against non sanctioned team it reduces the value of being sanctioned members‎.”

I also reached out for comment from a representative at USA Hockey, but have not heard back.

The Blazers have made attempts to play some of the local NAHL teams in the surrounding area, but all the challenges have been declined.

The biggest detriment in all of this is that unless registered with USA Hockey, the Blazers are not permitted to coach or assist the growth and development of youth hockey teams in OKC. With the talent that has been coming up out of the Oil Kings program here in OKC, this is a missed opportunity to help grow the game.

OKC Barons 2014-15 Estimated Time-On-Ice

With advanced stats a rare find in the minor leagues of American pro hockey, I’ve been working to add what I can to that realm. One of the most interesting stats is Time-On-Ice, in an effort to better see how many prospects are being used during their time in the American Hockey League. The Oklahoma City Barons saw quite a few promising prospects in their five years of playing before moving to Bakersfield, California, and it’s always fun to see how and where a lot of these guys were played.

A lot of the work on estimating TOI was started by Iain Fyffe and I’m happy to continue it. There’s a lot of great insight into the Barons 2014-15 on-ice stats from Lowetide, so be sure to check that out as well. Here, I’ll provide the actual Estimated TOI numbers for the Barons from last season.

One of the tough things about estimating TOI is that a large sample size is usually needed in order to get a number that makes a lot of sense. For this list, I took out some of the players that only played a handful of games and were never on the ice for a goal. In the case of players like Platzer and LaLeggia, even though they were only with the team for a few regular season games, they still had instances of numbers that made a bit of sense.

Leading the way for the centers is Anton Lander, who graduated midway through the season to the NHL. Veteran Jason Williams was consistently on the first line for the Barons last season, and he took up a lot of minutes on the PP as well. Bogdan Yakimov’s average number for the season comes out at around the 15 minute mark, but as I’ve mentioned on Twitter, his ice-time doubled once Lander was called up to the Oilers full-time. Guys like Connor Jones, Jujhar Khaira, and Travis Ewanyk were shuffled among the third and fourth lines all season.

On the left wing, Ryan and Curtis Hamilton took on most of the minutes, and then there’s a large drop to Kale Kessy, who was injured in the first half of the season and missed out on the second half. Kellen Jones and Josh Winquist made the most of their time on the ice throughout the season and look to have promising careers ahead of them.

Andrew Miller made a big splash with the Barons and earned himself some time with Edmonton last season. Matthew Ford was an all-around multi-purpose player for OKC last season, playing on the PP and PK as well. Pitlick and Pakarinen had pretty successful seasons with OKC, before being injured while with Edmonton.

Brad Hunt led the blue liners for most of the season, and ATO Joey LaLeggia got a big push while he was with the team at the end of the season. Oscar Klefbom probably shouldn’t have ever been with OKC last season. Brandon Davidson had a high-minutes role as well, and will probably have the same next season. The rest of the defense will all look to battle it out in training camp this season as they try to climb the depth chart.

OKC Jr. Blazers announce preseason Canadian road trip

Days after finding out their regular season schedule, the Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers announced their preseason schedule that will see them embark on a road trip to Canada. The trip for the Blazers will see them play seven games against six different teams from three different junior leagues.

Up first, the Blazers head to Weyburn, Saskatchewan to take on the Weyburn Red Wings on September 7th. The Red Wings are part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, a Junior A league one step below the three major junior leagues in Canada. Weyburn is also the longest-running team in the SJHL, having been a part of the league since 1968. The Blazers then head to Kindersley, Saskatchewan to take on the Kindersley Klippers, also of the SJHL, on September 9th.

The Blazers will take on their first team from the North American Hockey League, when they take on the Minot Minotauros in a neutral site game in Estevan, Saskatchewan on September 11th. The NAHL is the Tier II junior league under the USA Hockey banner, while the WSHL is a Tier II junior League under the United Hockey Union, marking the first meeting of teams when both are considered Tier II.

A homecoming occurs when the Blazers take on the Estevan Bruins on September 12th and 13th, as head coach Tyler Fleck and assistant coach Marco Cefalo return to coach against the team they grew up playing junior hockey for. Fleck was quoted as saying, “Estevan is home for me. I played my entire Junior career with the Bruins and it was a very special time of my life. I guess it will be a bit of a homecoming for myself and for Marco (Cefalo). We are looking forward to being back there and on the bench.” Fleck and Cefalo were both members of the Bruins when they last won a championship in 1998-99.

The Blazers finish up the road trip on September 15th as they head to Virden, Manitoba to take on the Virden Oil Capitals of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The team returns home on the 17th and look towards their second season in the WSHL.

Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers release 2015-16 schedule

Despite not reaching the Thorne Cup finals last season, the Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers enjoyed a successful first season in the Western States Hockey League. It came down to the wire last season as the Blazers pushed the defending Thorne Cup champion El Paso Rhinos to the third of a three-game set, but ultimately fell to end their season.

That loss only feeds into the want of another try next season, as the Blazers begin their second season in the WSHL, now a tier-II junior league in the United Hockey Union. The Blazers have already signed a few returnees from their inaugural roster in Lubos Vacek, Drake Johnson, and Kole Hudson – while also introducing a new names in Tomas Rubes and high-scoring forward Tomas Nemeth.

The WSHL recently released their schedule for the 2015-16 season, with a few highlights on the schedule for the Blazers. To start the season, the Blazers will begin on the road in Wichita, Kansas on October 2nd to take on the Jr. Thunder in a three-game set. The Blazers make their home debut two weeks later on October 16th as they welcome the Springfield Express for a three-game set of their own.

The next three weeks feature some unique matchups for the team this season. The Blazers head to Salt Lake City, Utah for their first matchup ever against the Salt Lake City Moose on October 23rd. Making their first trips to the Blazers Ice Centre will be the Cheyenne Stampede (October 30th-November 1st) and the Casper Coyotes (November 13-15). The Blazers met the Coyotes last season at the Western States Showdown, defeating the Coyotes 5-3. The Coyotes were the eventual Mountain Division champions.

The Tulsa Jr. Oilers makes their first visit to Oklahoma City on November 25th, while the Blazers head to Tulsa on November 11th to begin the rivalry once again. The battle of the heavyweights in the Midwest Division commences on January 15th, when the defending division champions El Paso Rhinos head to Oklahoma City. The Blazers visit El Paso on February 26th. The Blazers finish off the season at home against the Dallas Snipers on the weekend of March 4th.

Finally, the Blazers will host the inaugural WSHL All-Star Game on January 6th as they take on a team compiled of all-stars from the other teams in the WSHL.

Lots of exciting things happening at the Blazers Ice Centre this season, as the Blazers continue the tradition of hockey in Oklahoma City. 2015-16 is just around the corner.

The New AHL Schedule Format, and Things To Consider

You’ve most likely heard or seen about it by now, but just in case you haven’t, the rumors became truth in regards to the unbalanced schedule in the American Hockey League next season. Yes, I know I’m a week behind, but hey, I just got married. That’s a good excuse, right?

So anyway, we now know that the five California-based teams (Bakersfield, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton, Ontario) will play 68 games next season, while the remaining 25 AHL teams will play 76 games. We already knew that the California-based teams will be in the same division as the Texas-based teams, making it even a little bit more odd in that teams in the same division will be playing a different standard of games.

In order to combat that, the AHL announced that teams will be ranked by points percentage to determine playoff seedings, meaning that a California-based team will percentage points in a win, or lose more in a loss than any of the other teams in the league. The interesting change will be to see how the league determines tie-breakers for next season. In the three other divisions, it won’t matter much as they will have played the same amount of games. But for the Pacific Division, if Stockton were to tie with Texas, a tie-breaker of Regulation+OT Wins would be heavily weighted towards Texas.

The other interesting dynamic will come in the form of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the AHL and the PHPA. Players on AHL contracts will earn more money per game if they play for a California team, but also, they’ll face eight less games to affect their veteran status. Currently, if a player has played 260 or more professional games at the beginning of the season, they are considered a veteran. If they sit at 259 at the start of the season, they do not become one once the season begins.

Now, let’s take a player sitting at 190 games as an example. If he were to play an ironman season for the Chicago Wolves, playing in every single game of the season, he would end the season at 266 games and therefore making him a vet for the 2016-17 season. With the currently six-veteran limit on teams, it makes him a bit harder to place in the AHL. But, if he were to do the same thing for the Ontario Reign, he’d only be at 258 games and wouldn’t have to be constrained by the veteran status in 2016-17. With the CBA negotiations on-going for next season, it’ll be another interesting dynamic to see how or if it’s addressed.

Making a return next season with the now-four division league, is the crossover rule for the playoffs. The Oklahoma City Barons saw the benefits to this rule in the 2010-11 season, using it to make the playoffs in that season. The crossover allows the fifth place team in an eight-team division (the Atlantic and Central divisions this season) has a higher points percentage than the fourth place team in the seven-team division (the North and Pacific, respectively), the fifth place team crosses over and competes in the playoff in that bracket.

To describe that in simpler terms, we’ll use the Barons in 2011 as an example. The Barons finished in fifth place of the West Division with 91 points. The Abbotsford Heat finished in fourth place of the North Division with 86 points. Since the Barons finished higher, they moved over to the North Division bracket and took on the first seed Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round. To make mention of an earlier point, the tie-breaks will be interesting to look at next season.

It certainly looks odd next season, but as AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews told Sean Shapiro, nothing is set in stone beyond this season. More changes may be coming our way in 2016-17.

Dallas Stars Extend Affiliation With Idaho

Photo via Idaho Steelheads. All rights reserved. 

The Dallas Stars announced this morning that they have inked another one-year affiliation extension with the Idaho Steelheads as their go-to ECHL franchise. Having the same ECHL affiliate for what will be eleven straight seasons is quite the accomplishment, and it is also a testimony to the sturdy tendencies of front office and coaching staff in the Idaho pipeline. The extension comes as it does in typical Stars form (mid-summer, unassuming), but it also is worth watching if you are from the Oklahoma City area.

You will recall that confirmed rumors bubbled to the surface months ago about Oklahoma City nabbing an ECHL slot for the 16-17 season. Those confirmed reports came in two forms – a revival of the OKC Blazers owned by a local group, and another via the Dallas Stars, whom would be keen on an ECHL team north of the Red River.

Today’s announcement doesn’t confirm nor deny the potential for a Stars inking a deal with the city of OKC, but it sure is worth watching a year from now.

In the end my selfish tendencies have me “ALL IN” on a potential Stars affiliate residing five minutes from my front door. As a life-long Stars fan I would be delighted to see a marriage between my NHL team and my city. Chances are there are many more like me. Fingers (and toes) crossed.

via Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Stars announced today that the club will renew its affiliation with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads for the 2015-16 season.

The Steelheads have served as Dallas’ ECHL affiliate since the 2005-06 season and during the 2003-04 campaign. Idaho has reached the Kelly Cup Finals three times as an affiliate of the Dallas Stars, winning the Kelly Cup twice (2004 and 2007). The Steelheads were crowned Pacific Division champions during the 2014-15 regular season, posting a record of 48-18-2-4.

“We are extremely pleased to renew our affiliation with the Steelheads,” said Director of Hockey Operations and Texas Stars General Manager Scott White. “Head Coach Brad Ralph has done a tremendous job in Idaho, as his success in developing young players has led to the winning culture we strive to uphold at all levels of the organization. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Steelheads.”

The Texas Stars will continue to operate as Dallas’ top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

An Open Letter To The Arizona Coyotes, From OKC

Logo via Wikipedia

Hello Arizona Coyotes! My name is Eric Rodgers, and I wanted to reach out to your organization, in the event that the city council meeting with the City of Glendale happens to result in them kicking your team – their one and only main tenant – out of their arena. As much of a silly idea that they would do this, I want you and your team to know that there is another city that is full of hockey fans that would welcome your team with open arms, and that is right here in Oklahoma City.

Located just 14 hours east of your current building, Oklahoma City is a bright and vibrant city that, wouldn’t you know it, is now open to receiving a new hockey team. You see, our previous professional hockey team just left us for the west coast and we’re kind of sad at the fact that we won’t have any professional hockey this coming season. But that’s where you come in!

Now, the building that you would probably have to play in, the Cox Convention Center, isn’t the best building when you compare it to places like the Staples Center or the United Center, but the good news is that it is freshly renovated with great locker rooms and a new ice plant that was installed just five years ago. Now, if that doesn’t quite suit your needs, there is another building right across the street that you may be able to talk the basketball team into letting you share. They’re just a bit possessive is all, but I’m sure they’d be willing to talk things out with you.

Our city has glowing recommendations from hundreds of hockey players, many of which have played within your organization while you were affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage. Our team that just left, many of the players were sad to leave this city and the community here, and I think that right there shows a lot of just how much of an impression we leave on players coming through here. (Just ask Mark Arcobello)

I’m sure you’re wondering though, would this city be equipped to handle such a move in such a short amount of time. The answer, is yes. You see, when the New Orleans Hornets were unfortunately forced to temporarily relocate their franchise ten years ago, our city jumped up and supported the Hornets during their tough time. I’m positive that our fine city would do the same once again.

Another possible benefit (and I say possible, because I can’t guarantee it personally) is that our city has a strong reputation of franchises going from struggling in the standings, to becoming perennial contenders. When the Seattle SuperSonics relocated here to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, they were consistently finishing in the bottom five of their conference. Now, it took a season or two, but now look at that team! Four straight division titles before this season, but anyone has to admit that injuries took a big toll on them.

And that hockey team I mentioned before? They all came from the Springfield Falcons (your 2015-16 AHL affiliate, oddly enough) before the Edmonton Oilers decided they wanted their own franchise. They never saw the playoffs in Springfield, but once they came to Oklahoma City – boom, playoffs. As I said before, a lot of that will depend on you, but I’m just saying, we have a good track record.

You could easily keep the Coyotes name when you move here as well, seeing as we have a strong population of coyotes in this state. There’s even a bit of history with the nickname here in Oklahoma City! From 1994 through 1996, we had a Roller Hockey International team named the Oklahoma Coyotes, which saw many former Oklahoma City Blazers players skate with the team during the summers. Just please bring back your logo from 1999-2003 full-time, that thing was awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, of course, I hope that things go well with the city of Glendale and that everything gets worked out. But just in case, I hope that this letter lets you know that there are options, and that we’d love to have you.

Yours always in hockey,
Eric Rodgers

ECHL Teams release their Protected Lists

ECHL teams released their Protected Lists yesterday which basically allows teams to “protect” a group of their players (based on the rules stated below) giving teams exclusive negotiating rights through July 1st. The more crucial list is a team’s “Season Ending Roster” (consisting of up to 20 players) which will be released on June 15th and teams can begin to sign players beginning June 16th. A team’s Season Ending Roster establishes the core of players for each team’s Qualifying Offers given to 8 of their players to be submitted by June 30th, and released publicly on July 1st.

You will notice that some teams protected a few of their players who have already signed overseas, however that just allows a team to negotiate with the player should their plans change.

Any ECHL Players who were assigned to an ECHL team by the National Hockey League or American Hockey League affiliate or team will not appear on the Protected lists since they cannot be protected.

Any in-season Future Consideration trades must be completed by June 13th. If your team owes a team a future consideration or another team owes your team a future consideration, those trades must be completed by June 13th.

“The ECHL on Tuesday announced the Protected Lists as submitted by each of its Member teams.

Teams are allowed to protect as many players as they wish provided the players protected meet the guidelines as defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association which state that teams shall retain the rights to each player that:

1. Signed an SPC in 2014-15 with the Member, and has not been traded or released, OR

2. Signed an SPC in 2014-15, and was recalled to the NHL/AHL or IIHF team, and has not been traded or released, OR

3. Had received a Qualifying Offer last summer for the current Season, DID NOT sign an SPC, and has not been traded or released, OR

4. Has been suspended by the Member or League, and has not been traded or released, OR

5. Signed an SPC on or after the first day of the 2014-15 Regular Season, then subsequently signed an NHL/AHL contract, and has not been traded or released, OR

6. Has executed the ECHL Retirement Form, and has not been traded or released.

Protected lists may exceed 20 players.

The ECHL also announced that teams must complete all Future Consideration trades by 3 p.m. ET on June 13 and that teams must submit their Season-Ending Roster by 3 p.m. ET on June 15.

Season-ending rosters may include up to 20 players and cannot include any players who did not sign an ECHL contract in 2014-15.”

View the ECHL teams Protected Lists. TTF will cover each step of this process through June and July. Stay tuned!

(Apologies for the delay in releasing this since your Tend the Farm crew was busy with our BIG news released yesterday.)

OKC Blazers “Interested” In Return, Joining ECHL in 2016

Brad Lund, Eric Newendorp, Chris Presson, Winston Ayala, Jay Lakin, Corey MacIntyre, DeBray Ayala at the “Blazers Summit” in Scottsdale. Photo via Brad Lund. 

If you live in Oklahoma City or were a fan of the OKC Blazers you surely remember the name Brad Lund. Lead executive for sixteen seasons and four-time CHL Executive of the Year, Lund was one of many responsible for the 90’s through 00’s success of the Central League Blazers long before the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town, but most certainly long before the Oklahoma City Barons were a possibility.

Lund is now co-owner and operator of Sold Out Strategies, a sports management and marketing agency in downtown Oklahoma City.

Over the weekend Brad Lund posted a series of tweets and photos that sparked a bit of discussion among long-time fans of hockey in OKC, and most certainly perked the attention of Blazers fans around the city.

In those tweets were photos and words that made you nostalgic for just a fraction of a moment. People and statements that hinted a return of the Blazers with some people that were there from the glory days not long ago.

Lund used phrases like “Return of the Blazers THINK TANK” and “Return of the Blazers Summit” and “Blazers possible return“. All things that many in these parts welcome with open arms. But what exactly did Lund mean? We asked him.

“I’m ready to talk about the future, not necessarily the past,” said Lund via telephone on Tuesday afternoon. “Historically the Oklahoma City Blazers did well. When the Hornets came to town (after Hurricane Katrina) it hit us, and it hit us hard. So, yes, we started giving away tickets, and selling discount tickets. Others have made it sound like we gave away tickets for seventeen years. We didn’t.”

Indeed, as the Blazers were overtaken by the presence of the NBA, the attention turned towards more major league things as the city evolved into a major league contender for a permanent team.

Long story made extremely short, the Oklahoma City Thunder moved from Seattle to the Sooner state. The Oklahoma City Barons began play two years later. The former seemingly pulled attention (and tickets) away from the latter, and the story ends with our beloved AHL Barons burning bright for only five seasons. The 2014-2015 season would be there last.

So Lund, and a group of six others, headed to Scottsdale, Arizona for a makeshift reunion, but more importantly to discuss the potential return of the Oklahoma City Blazers in the wake of the loss of AHL hockey.

“Me and six of my former employees got together in Scottsdale – part pleasure, part business – to talk about the pro’s and con’s of bringing back the Blazers,” explains Lund. “I posted the tweets in fun, but it started taking off. I even got a call from a reporter in Boston. It is amazing what a couple hundred followers, and a few tweets can turn in to.”

Indeed. The Oklahoma City hockey community it small, but it is tight, and news of this nature makes many curious.

Lund continues, “Nine of my former employees went on to be GM’s of sports team’s across the country. In my sixteen years with the Blazers, this is what I’m most proud of. To see the growth of the staff.”

With the assembling of former pieces of a successful staff, Lund and company are boldly attempting to bring Blazers hockey back to Oklahoma City.

Lund quickly gets to the point, “We have a business opportunity in the sports marketplace to put together an ownership for the return of the Blazers for 2016. I would establish the level of interest from perspective ownership groups as average to good. Never great until you have someone sign on the dotted line.” He continues, “We’ve had two existing ECHL franchise owners show interest in the market. There’s a reputable minor league sports broker out there that has a handful of clients interested. I’ve met with local business leaders in town, there’s even one former Blazer living in Canada now interested in owning the team. It’s out there.”

Out there indeed. With a dark period of major league hockey now upon us, the thought of a new owner, forming a new team, and possibly embracing a former market is quite thrilling. But there is still so much work to do.

“Fans have been saying over the last couple of months, ‘I hear you’re bringing back the Blazers,’ and I go ‘Where did you hear that?'” says Lund with a chuckle, “Most assume the pieces are in place when they aren’t. Not yet.”

Those pieces involve money, and lots of it. Lund explains, “This day and age sports is big business whether it’s the minors or the big leagues. It’s not a cheap business to get into. The investment opportunity we are talking about would be around two million dollars which counts the expansion fee, insurance, and general operating cash flow. Two million dollars to me, and a lot of others, is a great sum of money. You don’t just pop up the Blazers name and go. It is big business, you have to plan for the worst.”

And the upgrade from the CHL, which consolidated with the ECHL, brings about an operating budget vastly different than it was in the early 00’s when the Blazers were last playing in downtown Oklahoma City.

“An average ECHL budget is around three million dollars which roughly depends on how you do on the sponsorship,” laments Lund. “Which if we do half of what we did with the Blazers we would need to average a little under 4,000 people under full price for us to have a break-even model.”

That 4,000 number sounds familiar, and in five seasons the Barons of the AHL couldn’t muster those averages. But this approach to team building is different, as Lund and Sold Out Strategies look to separate owner from operator, as the local managers embrace nostalgia while moving forward.

“Some days I wake up and I think ‘Let’s do this’ and other days I wake up and think ‘What are you thinking?'” Lund says honestly. “In 1999 I said something that got me in a lot of trouble, but it is true – Oklahoma City is not a hockey town, it’s a Blazers town. We even had people cancel season tickets because I said that. I’m not trying to be a know-it-all, but I think the last five years have proven that. I do believe this is a Blazers town. You still see people wearing a Blazers shirt. I believe in the market. I believe in the Blazers brand. I believe in the brand more than the sport itself.”

Consider this for a moment. What if hockey is incapable of returning to OKC? What if the market is dying in terms of sticks and pucks? It could, and that is a frightful thing to consider given the legacy of sport in this town.

“I’m fearful that if a franchise isn’t activated in Oklahoma City in the next eighteen months this market could go dark for decades if not forever,” says Lund passionately. “We are working on it. We have no firm timeline in place. Something could happen very fast or it could take a while. The people I sit and talk to about this are extremely intrigued, and really get a kick out of it.”

When asked about the rumors of Northlands, owners of the Dallas and Texas Stars, moving their Idaho ECHL affiliate to OKC Lund says, “I’ve met with two existing ECHL franchise people, neither was affiliated with the Dallas Stars. I was not aware of those rumors, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.”

Lund has discussed this matter both with the city and SMG (managing entity of the Cox Convention Center) with whom he gets weekly updates on the matter.

The timeline is not fully realized right now, but the announcement will come late summer early fall, but with a deadline of January 2016 or else, as Lund explains, “You can kiss the 2016 season start goodbye because you don’t want to rush a business like this.”

For some this news is a change of pace. For others it is a celebration. Regardless, knowing that Oklahoma City is a desired market for someone helps ease the pain of recently losing a team. I say…fingers crossed.

(Thanks to Brad Lund for quickly returning my phone call, and for the interview. Thanks also to Eric Rodgers and Patricia Teter for their contribution to this story as well. We make a great team!) 

 

Edmonton Oilers Say “Thank You” To OKC In Full Page Ad

The Oklahoma City Barons season ended at the hands of the Utica Comets just a few days ago. Since then it has been difficult to say goodbye to a franchise we have loved for five years, but we have done it, and we continue to be grateful.

Likewise the Edmonton Oilers have said “Thank You” to the team, the fans, the community, and owners that have given us one heckuva a run in their own way.

Via a full page ad (seen below), the Edmonton Oilers have said their thank you’s and their goodbye’s. The ad reads:

“To the great people and fans in Oklahoma City thank you for your dedication to the Barons the past 5 years. Your hospitality and support made our players and staff feel at home and a welcome part of the community.

To Bob Funk Jr. and our partners at Prodigal, we thank you for your commitment, hard work and professionalism in operating the Oklahoma City Barons and putting on a great show every night for the team, fans and community. We couldn’t have asked for better partners in this venture.

Oklahoma City will always have a special place in our heart!

Thank you!

Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club”

The unnecessary gesture here was classy nonetheless. As a fan, I’m appreciative of the statement. And to the Edmonton Oilers we thank YOU for the opportunity.