SteelHounds coach Kevin Kaminski said he has no idea what’s happened.
VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT
YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown SteelHounds executives were left scrambling Monday night in the wake of an announcement that the Central Hockey League has terminated the franchise’s membership in the league for the 2008-09 season.
The CHL, in a press release, stated “… the Youngstown SteelHounds are no longer participating in the league.”
That apparently came as news to SteelHounds owner Herb Washington, general manager Joe Gregory and coach/director of hockey operations Kevin Kaminski.
Calls to all three were not immediately returned, but Kaminski did respond to a text message:
“I have no idea what is going on,” wrote Kaminski. “This is crazy! I’m very worried!”
Gregory was scheduled to attend the league meetings next week in Phoenix.
In November 2007, Washington said in a story published in The Vindicator that the franchise was embroiled in a financial dispute with the league.
At the core of the dispute — neither Washington nor the league would disclose a dollar figure — is the issue of travel expenses.
Washington expected the CHL to reimburse the SteelHounds for at least a portion of their travel expenses (the SteelHounds are the only CHL franchise in the Eastern time zone).
Washington said in the November story he owed the CHL “league fees” and money owed for player fines.
That dispute is apparently ongoing.
The CHL’s director of communications, Bob Hoffman (a former SteelHounds employee), wrote in an E-mail to The Vindicator: “… with litigation pending our position is very guarded. What I can say is that we have sent the SteelHounds a termination letter and they will not be participating next season.”
In April, Washington told The Vindicator that he had talked to other leagues about switching affiliation for the 2008-09 season.
The best fit would seem to be the ECHL, formerly the East Coast Hockey League, that has nearby franchises in Dayton, Toledo, Cincinnati, Wheeling, W.Va., and Johnstown, Pa.
Another possibility is the International Hockey League, formerly known as the United Hockey League.
The IHL competed with just six franchises in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois in 2007-08.
The CHL is run by Global Entertainment, which ran the Chevrolet Centre until last fall.