CALGARY (660 NEWS) — In a letter dated May 4, Mike Cartney, Calgary Mustangs’ president, announced that the board had voted in favour of the organization taking a leave of absence for the 2019-2020 season.
They were hoping a move to Strathmore would help turn their books around as they were struggling in a crowded Calgary market competing for fans against the Hitmen and Flames.
Those hopes were dashed when the Alberta Junior Hockey League denied their request in April and their subsequent appeal was unsuccessful. Then they explored the possibility of selling the team as a last ditch effort but it wasn’t meant to between as negotiations fell through.
Although it’s no secret the team has been plagued by financial difficulties, the news came as a surprise to former general manager and head coach Tyler Drader.
“I was kind of sick to my stomach, to be honest.
When I came in the team was struggling and set a record for 29 games in a row they lost.
When we came in our first full season with our new staff and players we quadrupled the wins and made the playoffs for the first time in the last little while,” he said.
When the club said they would put the team on the market forcing a possible outside of Calgary, Drader was forced to search for another coaching job. Coincidentally he was named SAIT’s new men’s hockey coach on the same day Cartney sent his letter announcing the team’s intention to fold.
Low ticket sales and declining revenue from advertisements were two of the reasons the board gave in making their decision as it had made the business unsustainable.
“On the hockey side we were a good hockey team,” he pointed out. “We felt like we were doing what we needed on ice and unfortunately the off ice stuff didn’t work out.”
Strader has been in contact with parents and players and is encouraging them to be patient as they wait for more information to be released.
“I think everybody’s a little bit concerned — wondering what is going to happen if people can get traded, or if they become free agents or rumours of a dispersal draft with the league,” he said. “I mean we don’t know those answers just yet.”
The board is expected to release more details to players next week.
The last time Drader can remember something like this happening was when the Crowsnest Pass became the Okotoks Oilers.
April 2019 — The club receives the Strathmore decision from the AJHL. An appeal is filed and denied.
April 2019 — Club explores options including a possible sale that would send the team to the BCHL
May 4, 2019 — Mustangs’ president Mike Cartney releases a statement that the league will be folding for the 2019/20 season.
June 1, 2019 — Date for trades and registering players
December 2019 — Club thought they would run out of money by December