Hope Yet For Canberra Knights

It’s been a big couple of days in the story of the Canberra Knights‘ demise.

Credit: Ben Southall Photography

Credit: Ben Southall Photography

What started with the announcement, as reported, on Wednesday that the team would be folding, first broken by ABC journalist Ewan Gilbert on Twitter, closely followed by statements of confirmation from Knights owner John Raut and the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL).

It prompted an outpouring of emotion from hockey fans all over the country and from the international fans of the league.

This turned to action come Thursday morning. The troops began to march. Before long a Facebook group was created and all kinds of offers of support came along. Offers ranging from sponsorship to volunteering and ideas for contacts to be made within the local community all proving that the people of Canberra and Australia love this team.

Hopes were raised when The Canberra Times posted an article by Lee Gaskin reporting that the players were putting together a bid to save the club.

Gaskin reports that Knights players are meeting Thursday night and that captain Mark Rummukainen was planning to speak to AIHL Deputy Commissioner Alex Lata on the possibility of the Knights being revived this season.

‘‘The players want to keep going and we weren’t given the opportunity to do anything in the first place,’’ Rummukainen Told Gaskin on Thursday.

The timing of this announcement is strange, given the players had been in pre-season training since January and the closeness to the start of the season in early April. There is also some inconsistency in the story surrounding the reasons for the club folding. The reasons given were a lack of funds and local player availability.

On Canberra radio 2CC today, Raut indicated to Mark Parton that the main reason was the shortage of local players, not the finances.

“We don’t have the numbers, we have eight players, 4 of them are in the latter part of their career and four players that are kids. It doesn’t give us any depth. We need a roster that will be competitive”

Yet the message coming through on Wednesday was that the finances were a big part of it, Raut telling The Canberra Times Gaskin

”The bottom line is, do we keep throwing money out and accepting a loss as we have in the last couple of seasons and not be able to do Canberrans proud by putting a competitive side on the ice?”

Nothing seems to stack up, whether its the figure of $160,000 – $170,000 being bandied about to run the team, if the rink they play in holds 600 people or 1,200 or the inconsistencies in messages. And then there is a government grant which may or may not have been returned.

The way the players found out, by email and Facebook, is also a strange move for one that has such a big impact on so many.

The AIHL took the Knights logo from their website on Thursday, perhaps a sign of the chances of this bid getting up. Hewitt Sports has contacted the league for comment on the demise of the Knights, but have declined to comment to date.

It’s now up to the hockey community of Canberra, with the help of the rest of the country, can pull through and get the mighty Canberra Knights back on the ice, even if we have to wait until 2015.

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Chris Meister

Chris Meister

Editor at large - Hockey
Chris is a mad fan of almost any sport and a number of sporting teams, too many to mention. With an American father, Chris’s love of traditional North American sports was developed at a young age, receiving weekly newspaper clippings on all the Philadelphia teams from his grandfather (how times have changed!!). In the latter half of the 2011 AIHL season, Chris started writing for theaihl.com and has since written for Hewitt Sports Network covering AIHL and ABL and The Armchair Selector. In the limited spare time that Chris has, he enjoys going to watch his favourite teams play (whatever the code) and also spending time with his young family.
Chris Meister
Chris Meister

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