Originally created 06/19/02

ECHL tables WCHL plan



Contrary to a report in the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, Calif., a decision by East Coast Hockey League owners to align with the West Coast Hockey League will not be decided at the league meetings, which conclude today in Las Vegas.

Augusta Lynx general manager Mike Pierson has been in contact with team owner Peter Gillespie, who is attending the meetings. Pierson contends the absorption of the WCHL is a tabled issue.

"That's what we're calling it - an absorption, because it's not a merger - but they're not even going to vote on it," Pierson said. "Nothing's going to be decided (at the meetings), from what I understand."

The WCHL held its annual meetings in Las Vegas last weekend, and several published reports in California indicated the league would strike a deal with the ECHL by this week.

The "absorption" is widely viewed as being more advantageous to WCHL teams, whose owners seek to gain the ECHL's direct National Hockey League affiliations and lucrative sponsorships.

But several ECHL general managers and owners already have said it makes little sense to them.

"This is all news to us in the (ECHL)," former Lynx/Richmond Renegades GM Paul Gamsby told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Except in a brief conference call, we haven't even discussed it."

Outgoing ECHL president Rick Adams could not be reached for comment.

MACON OFFICIALLY DONE: Several troubled ECHL clubs made their intentions known at the league meetings this week, and as expected, the Macon Whoopee will not operate in middle Georgia next season.

Macon owners, however, are considering relocating the franchise to one of a handful of other markets next season. One league source said Savannah is a possibility.

"They're trying to find a place to put (Macon)," Augusta's Pierson said. "That could happen in the next week."

Greensboro, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana each told the league they would be back next season. The league gave the New Orleans Brass more time to announce their intentions for next year. The Brass are being forced out of New Orleans Arena now that the NBA's Charlotte Hornets are coming to town, and are considering their options for next year.

ONE-TIMERS: If the Lynx secure an affiliation with he NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, there is a good chance goalie Zac Bierk will be back. Though Bierk's contract expired at the end of the season, the Coyotes made him a qualifying offer for the 2002-03 season, meaning he will remain in the Phoenix organization unless he is traded. ... Pierson said there was nothing new to report on the club's affiliation talks with the Coyotes. "It's still on hold for now," he said. ... Coyotes officials hired former NHL enforcer Marty McSorley to coach their American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. McSorley's NHL playing career was marred by his infamous stick assault on Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear. Lynx coach Jim Burton was believed to be a candidate for the job.

Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.