Today should be an interesting day for the Central Hockey League, Missouri Mavericks and hockey in Kansas City.
I think the part that bothers me most is IF the Central Hockey League folds and leaves the Mavericks in a lurch for a season, the completely uninformed local media will have a heyday. I can just hear the sports talkers now. “Well, Kansas City can’t keep another hockey team.” “Doesn’t this just show that Kansas City can’t support hockey or an NHL team.”
Let’s get something straight. Hockey teams in Kansas City have not folded. The Kansas City Blades did not fold! The entire league folded. Six IHL teams were swallowed up by the AHL. One of those teams was the Grand Rapids Griffins. Richard DeVos owns the Griffins. DeVos lives in Grand Rapids. He also owned the Blades (and Orlando Solar Bears). The AHL doesn’t allow one owner to own multiple franchises, therefore DeVos had to decide. Keep the Kansas City Blades or Orlando or keep the Grand Rapids Griffins. Easy choice there. DeVos later transferred the Griffins ownership to his son, Dan.
Rumors are the entire Central Hockey League may fold. If true, it’s certainly not the Mavericks fault. The Mavs have been a model franchise in the CHL. The Mavs ranked 19th in attendance for all minor league hockey teams. The Mavs average attendance was the highest in the CHL and higher than the average league attendance in the AHL (and well above the league-wide average attendance of the ECHL). Only four ECHL cities had a higher average attendance than the Mavs (ironically enough, three of those cities are former IHL cities).
Let’s make sure we get something straight — Kansas City has fallen victim to having hockey teams in either bad leagues (the CHL and UHL) or teams in a league that went bad (the IHL). I said over and over and over and over again that the Kansas City Sports Commission should have pushed hard to get Kansas City in the AHL. We’ve been passed over by Abbotsford and Omaha and Quad Cities and Utica and Glens Falls and Binghamton. Some of those cities lost their AHL franchise and none of them can match the Mavericks (or, heck, the Blades) average attendance.
Kansas City is a good minor league hockey market. We just need to get a franchise in a solid, stable league.