SteelHounds, IHL haven’t set faceoff for fall

The Midwest-based league is waiting for owner Herb Washington to call.


YOUNGSTOWN — A meeting to discuss financial terms has not yet been confirmed between the International Hockey League and SteelHounds owner Herb Washington.

Late Tuesday, Washington said he plans to have a sitdown session with IHL officials, perhaps “within the next 10 days.”

First, he’d like to meet with any officials and businessmen in the Valley interested in hockey’s future here.

In the wake of his team’s ouster from the Central Hockey League last week, Washington said joining the IHL in time for the season that begins in October was a possibility.

According to Eric Ryan, Chevrolet Centre executive director, the clock is ticking on this fall’s hockey season.

Last week, Ryan said that the SteelHounds’ decision for 2008-09 would need to be made by June 23. Otherwise, the arena would need to start booking acts for the dates being reserved for hockey.

However, Washington said the SteelHounds aren’t aware of any deadline set by the arena.

Paul Pickard, IHL president and chief executive officer, said he’s prepared for a visit to Youngstown, as soon as later this week. He said the league is awaiting confirmation from Washington.

On June 2, the CHL announced that the SteelHounds would not be participating in the season that begins in October. League officials have declined comment on the ouster, citing pending litigation.

The CHL owners gathered today in Phoenix for the annual league meetings. The Corpus Christi Rayz will participate this fall. The Rayz’s suspension was canceled when the team was sold.

The SteelHounds and Austin Ice Bats are not returning to the CHL while a new team in Rapid City, S.D., is joining.

It would have been the SteelHounds’ fourth season in the CHL, but first with the league’s parent company, Global Entertainment, not managing the Chevrolet Centre.

On June 5, Washington said joining the IHL or the more prestigious ECHL were possibilities.

But joining the ECHL for the upcoming season appears unlikely as the league has already announced its schedule.

The CHL, IHL and ECHL are all considered the equivalent of baseball’s Double A leagues. But there are differences.

The ECHL clubs have National Hockey league affiliations and are tied most closely to hockey’s top league.

NHL draft picks not good enough for the American Hockey League (Triple A) most likely are playing in the ECHL.

Some CHL clubs have NHL affiliations. Each team can carry four veterans (age 26 and older). Some NHL draft picks play in the CHL. For instance, the SteelHounds had Petr Pohl and Kirill Starkov this past season. Both were drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets and assigned to the SteelHounds by the NHL team.

The IHL allows each club to carry seven veterans. The salary cap is higher than the CHL.

The IHL was known as the United Hockey League until spring 2007. The 10-team league contracted to six (two teams joined the ECHL and two folded) and adopted the IHL name which had become available.

Four teams are in Michigan while the others are in Illinois and Indiana.

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