The Slave Lake Icedogs and their GMHL West Division colleagues in Alberta and B.C. are without a league as of last week. The Ontario-based Greater Metro Hockey League announced it was cutting its west division loose.
The language of the announcement was not very specific. It cited “financial challenges and various other issues” as the reason for the decision.
Others were willing to go further.
Icedogs’ owner Lauren Barr, for example, had this to say in an email to The Leader.
“Derek Prue (GMHL West Division executive director) was financially delinquent to the league and as such his membership was cancelled along with his teams.”
Barr went on in her email to stake out a new position for the Icedogs.
“We were aware this was happening,” she said.
One of the possibilities for the Icedogs is to join a Junior B league. Barr said she is contemplating that idea, but is “exploring all options.”
That would presumably include shutting the team down altogether. Selling the team would be another.
How joining a Junior B league with the Icedogs’ ‘pay-to-play’ business model would work is a good question – one that Barr isn’t able to answer yet. But if she does find a way to continue, she wouldn’t be starting from scratch.
“It’s early on, but I already have a full roster,” she says, “so time to finalize and continue operations.”
At the other end of the lake, the league champions High Prairie Red Wings are also trying to figure out what to do next. It could well involve talks with the Northwest Jr. Hockey League. As good as the Red Wings have been the past couple of seasons, it might be a good fit. The same can’t be said for the Icedogs, which started the 2022/23 season as a so-so team, and steadily got worse as it went along.
by Joe McWilliams
June 7, 2023