Rucker’s bid for Worcester ECHL franchise culminates today in Michigan

As the snow falls today here in Worcester out in Kalamazoo the weather is clear and it’s a supposed to be balmy day of 36°F. But for hockey fans in central Massachusetts it’s not the weather out in southern Michigan that’s important, it’s the results of the ECHL Board of Governors’ vote to admit Cliff Rucker’s Worcester Pro Hockey LLC to the ECHL with an expansion franchise.

Now with all the Is dotted and Ts crossed all that remains is for Rucker to present his proposal to the ECHL Board of Governors with the hopes of acquiring one of the two remaining expansion franchises. Rucker flew out to Michigan by himself Wednesday, but based on his interview with Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram Rucker knows he has the entirety of Worcester hockey fans standing behind him at the meeting.

“I’m not fundamentally a nervous guy, but yes, I’m getting a bit nervous about the whole thing and have to take a lot of deep breaths,” Rucker said to Ballou. “I’m nervous for two reasons — historically, as an entrepreneur I haven’t been accountable to too many people and if I’ve succeeded or failed, I’ve done so for myself. I would feel if I didn’t get this, I’ve failed the city of Worcester and that would be devastating to me. I think that’s what making me nervous. There is more at stake than just my money and, historically, that’s the only thing that’s ever been at stake for me.”

Ballou’s article also mentioned Rucker’s family has spent some time here in Worcester and is excited to make the city their new home. “My family is off the charts excited about this,” Rucker said. “We’re scouting for living accommodations in Worcester. My wife is supportive and excited and my kids are fired up. They’re all into it.”

Now some of that could be “PR-speak”, but even if it is Rucker has said something hockey fans in these parts have longed to hear. He’s someone that is not from here that’s looking to make Worcester his home, and already has gone all-in by being concerned about what happens here should his ECHL bid fail. That personal connection to Worcester was sorely missed in the ownerships of both the Worcester IceCats and Worcester Sharks, and I think will play a huge role in his success here if his application is approved.

Because of the timing of the ECHL Board of Governors’ meeting on Friday afternoon there has already been a press event scheduled for the DCU Center Monday to announce the new team in Worcester, scheduled before the vote is taken so that the media would have plenty of advance notice of the event to give it full coverage. Should Rucker’s bid fail the press event would obviously be cancelled.

But I expect to be heading to the DCU Center on Monday with an ear to ear grin.

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