The Denver Cutthroats hockey team have ended the 2014-15 season before it has even started. According to an announcement from the Central Hockey League (CHL) today, effective immediately, the team will not compete in the upcoming season.
The announcement comes following a season that saw the team reach the CHL’s Miron President’s Cup Finals, only to lose in a best of seven series, four games to one to the eventual league champion Allen Americans. The team’s NHL affiliate, the Colorado Avalanche, also had a strong run in the Stanley Cup play-offs last season. Due to the love of hockey in Denver, Fans were caught off guard with the announcement. Although Denver is known as a football town, the hockey fan-base is strong.
Although the upcoming 2014-15 season has ended before it had a chance to start, the Denver Cutthroats do not plan on going away permanently. In a press release from the CHL and confirmed by some of the Denver team’s staff members, the organization will be working towards finding more investors and would like to head back out on the ice as soon as the 2015-16 season. This would mean just a season off of the ice at the Denver Colosseum.
Steve Ryan, the Commissioner for the CHL stated that Denver is still a viable market for minor league hockey and is owned by a passionate group that is determined to make it work. The league appears confident that the Cutthroats are not gone for good and will return to play and once again, become as a strong member of the community. Ryan also thanked the fans, management team and the owners for the enthusiasm, support and dedication to hockey and the CHL for the two seasons the team was in the CHL.
If the team returns to the ice starting with the 2015 season, it would end up being a new look team. The CHL press release stated that all signed Cutthroats players are now free agents. This means that the eight players the team had resigned, including Garett Bembridge, the leagues Most Valuable Player from last season, could return to the Denver Colosseum ice as soon as the 2015 season wearing another teams colors.
Hockey fans had speculated that the ECHL and CHL were talking about merging. The speculation stemmed from a tweet that was sent by a sports agent who claimed that the merger was a possibility. The speculation went viral among both ECHL and CHL fans. However, Bob Hoffman, Director of Operations for the CHL denied the rumor. According the Hoffman, the ECHL and CHL are not, to his knowledge, partaking in and merger talks. Hoffman also denied a rumor that the Arizona Sundogs were folding. The Director of Operations said that the Sundogs are not folding.
Now the CHL is down to eight teams after the Denver Cutthroats suspended operations for the 2014-15 season before it started. When the league began the 2013-14 season, there were ten teams. Soon after the regular season ended, the St. Charles Chill pulled the plug dropping the league to 9 teams. The league, according to Hoffman, is currently looking to help the Chill find a new ownership group to bring the team back to the ice. Fans hope both the Chill and Cutthroats are not off the ice for too long.
Commentary by Carl Auer