As you'd imagine, I get lots of questions -- from fans, other reporters, even owners -- about the viability of the IHL.
I've said since the IHL was reformed in 2007 that I was going to give it a chance. I have to admit, for the first time, I really have my doubts that this league is going to make it beyond 2010.
This whole situation with Dayton has me worried. Everyone knew that Richard Bruner and Ryan Yerrick had no experience in sports, went to Dayton with lawsuits in their wake and there was no public proof beyond their word that they could afford this undertaking on their own. I'm sure they made assurances behind closed doors, which the IHL must have believed.
Late franchise dues two months into the season show, perhaps, they shouldn't have beem.
The whole situation always looked strange, and felt strange, from the very beginning. The IHL rushed into Dayton with Bruner and Yerrick, who according to several people lost a key investor early. No one should be shocked Dayton has had these problems.
But there must still be more to this story, at least that's the general feeling. How many financial problems have IHL teams had in the past two years? They're going to pull the plug on Dayton's owners this early because of that?
League higher-ups have implied to me that there is a change in philosophy. They felt Dayton could balloon into a situation where players might not get paid, and they wanted to preemptively strike that. If that's indeed the case, then that explains much, but it would also represent a change from how the IHL has treated some businesses in the past couple of seasons.
I guess that's hopeful.
It's difficult to say at this point whether the Gems will make it beyond this season. I've been assured that they will, and that the new owners, who will be introduced Thursday, are solid. But attendance (1,571 per game) doesn't necessarily prove the fans will support the team. So what happens if the Gems fold, a logical question given that there have already been ownership problems?
Well, we already know Flint is on shaky ground, as it has been for years, because it's got largely the same ownership group as last season's debacle, recently canceled a game because of poor ice conditions and draws only 1,604 fans per game. If Dayton and Flint should not make it, will Quad City, which has been poor on the ice, stick around?
And if Quad City leaves, will Bloomington say enough is enough?
This is all worst-case scenario, sure, but I could see four teams going. Or, I could see them all staying and the IHL adding expansion teams in places like Indianapolis, Evansville and Chicago, and then we'll all be ecstatic.
It's very difficult to tell. Everything is spin with the IHL, all the time, and the truth is hard to get to these days.
I will say that the Komets are owned by savvy businesspeople and I find it hard to believe they would hitch their wagon to a league doomed to fail. Even if the IHL doesn't make it, the Komets will survive-- of that, I'm sure.
And for the record, the Komets say they are not putting money into Dayton to keep that franchise afloat.
- I don't make it a habit of throwing non-hockey stories at you, but you must watch this video: Click here.