The news came as a shock to many and prompted an outpouring of emotion on social media, as fans, players, officials and media all came to terms with this news.
News first broke on twitter at about 4.30pm this afternoon when ABC journalist Ewan Gilbert tweeted that the Knights, who have been around since 1981,had folded.
The @CanberraKnights have folded this afternoon. The decision was made due to budget and performance issues. They’ve been around since 1981.
— Ewan Gilbert (@ewangilbert) February 26, 2014
This news was confirmed by Knights players over twitter and ultimately by a statement on the AIHL website, the statement was as follows.
“Early this morning the Canberra Knights advised the AIHL Commission that they will be withdrawing from the AIHL Competition, effectively immediately.
This is sad news for the AIHL and the Australian hockey community.
The AIHL would like to acknowledge and thank the Canberra Knights organisation, players, volunteers and dedicated fans for their support of the Canberra Knights and the AIHL.”
Knights owner John Raut confirmed to the Canberra Times that the reasons for folding the club were financial and a lack of local player depth.
He confirmed that the league had offered the Knights the assistance of extra import players.
‘‘We were offered an extra two import places for this season, but it wouldn’t have solved the situation because the local talent we do have is two or three years away.” Raut told Lee Gaskin of the Canberra Times.
‘‘But the bottom line is do we keep throwing money out and accepting a loss and accepting as we have in the last couple of seasons not being able to do Canberrans proud by putting a competitive side on the ice.”
This is a bitter pill to swallow for the league and must leave them worrying about the financial state of the other clubs.
What impact this has on the season is yet to be told. One such consideration is the fixture. Will the fixture need to be re-done or will the scheduled games against Canberra just become byes?
Hopefully there are answers to this and the many other questions fans and players will undoubtedly have in the coming days.
And a white “Knight” coming to save them.