The Wings announced today that they have…
submitted a letter to the International Hockey League to voluntarily withdraw from the league.
Keep in mind that this is not the same IHL you remember from back in the day. That IHL was a league on solid footing, with a serious hook into the NHL development system. This IHL has a much more dubious background.
This IHL sprung from the UHL, which was a 14 team league only two years before it turned into the 6 team IHL. The former commissioner of the UHL, Richard Brosal, left the UHL for the B2 Network (online broadcaster of hockey games), after he was recorded having a conversation that “never happened” about a UHL linesman being coerced into changing his account of an incident with James Galante, then owner of the Danbury Trashers (a good summery of the events can be found here at the still missed blog, sidearm delivery).
The rest of the IHL is in plenty of trouble as well. The Flint Generals have had financial problems all season long, the Muskegon Lumberjacks changed ownership before the season, and the Port Huron franchise has never been all that stable.
The Wings still plan on playing next season, their 36th. They will announce where they will play at some point soon.
The Wings announcement follows the news that the President and CEO of the IHL left his post to go back to running the… (wait for it) Kalamazoo Wings. From the IHL website:
The International Hockey League (IHL) announced Friday that Paul L. Pickard, IHL President/CEO, will leave his post with the IHL following the expiration of his two-year term as League Commissioner. He advised the IHL Board of Governors that he would not be seeking an extension of his current contract to return to the Kalamazoo Wings as team President, the position he held prior to becoming the IHL’s Commissioner.
So the league president leaves his post heading the IHL, then the team he goes back to running leaves the IHL. What does that say about the IHL? Nothing good. The only team that is on solid footing would be the Ft. Wayne Komets, who lead the league in attendance by a country mile.
“Additional expansion efforts are underway as the IHL’s geographical alignment is proven to be successful,” stated Michael Franke, IHL Chairman of the Board. “The League continues to field several calls about expansion possibilities with markets within the Midwest and new markets for the upcoming season. We, as a league, look forward to what is to come in the near future.”
I wish them the best. With attendance like this at a semi-final playoff round, they may need wishes.
It’s going to be a wild ride for the minor leagues this off season. Stick around.