Pro hockey’s earliest return to Worcester is 2017

Now that the usual suspects have posted articles about the situation surrounding the ECHL placing an expansion franchise here in Worcester I’m going to toss my two cents in. I was hesitant before because while I didn’t know a whole lot of what was going on behind the scenes I did know some, and not saying anything at all about the situation is a lot easier than trying to remember what is public information and what isn’t.

In the Worcester Sharks era I spent nine seasons straddling the line of being a blogger and a fan, making sure that each time I posted something I kept the “fan” out of it unless the topic really called for that part to play a role. So allow me this time to say as I fan I’m more than a little disappointed that it appears we’ll be without pro hockey until the 2017-2018 season.

As a fan seeing fans across pro hockey talking about their teams on social media for a season is something that I could live with, but two is really one too many. It’s 52 extra weeks of not seeing my “hockey family” every weekend, and everything else that goes with that. It’s 12 more months of not cheering for our boys as they chase a playoff berth and hopefully contend for the championship. And, perhaps worst of all, it’s another year without the charitable efforts of the team and booster club in our community.

But the blogger part of me knows holding off until 2017-18 is the right way to do it.

What’s the worth of starting up next season if in the long run it causes hardships for the new franchise down the road? Sure is means we get pro hockey a year sooner, but it could absolutely lead to less of it in seasons to come. Starting a new franchise from scratch is hard enough, but without a solid base to build upon the task would be almost impossible. With the extra time Cliff Rucker, the Eastern Massachusetts businessman who would be the owner of the expansion ECHL franchise, will be able to set up the organization on a reasonable timetable and not be forced to make quick decisions that might have a negative impact on future seasons. It will also allow for his sales staff to gather sponsors and season ticket accounts to solidify the financial situation for the organization.

Prior to the recent slate of articles it was mentioned to me that Rucker’s organization, called “Worcester ProHockey LLC”, had trademarked the name “Worcester Whitehawks”. The nickname Whitehawks doesn’t do much for me, but it would really depend on the logo and team colors. They get those right and it will work out fine.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more concerned with the “Worcester” part of the name. Based on everything I’ve read and what’s been told to me by others that have spoken to him Rucker is committed to the “Worcester” part. He has huge shoes to fill when it comes to community outreach as the WorSharks organization excelled in that area, and Rucker has indicated an ability and willingness to take on the challenge.

So for that, I’m willing to wait.

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