THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS
Hockey league put on ice
Oct 31, 2004
Injuries, a lack of commitment from 'name' players and sponsors, and
a disinterested media have derailed the Original Stars Hockey League
The Mississauga entrepreneur who concocted the scheme to offset the
loss of professional hockey caused by the National Hockey League
lockout admitted this week there's little chance the league will
"We need more players before we can carry on," said Randy Gumbley,
who also owns the Provincial Junior A Hockey League's Streetsville
He told The News the OSHL, which started as a six-team league in
September with more than 100 players committed, is now down to 28
players after completing a series of games last week in New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia.
"I think we've got 25 guys out with injuries," said Gumbley, adding
some players also decided to play in Europe while the lockout
continues and other players were sent to NHL farm teams in the
American Hockey League.
He denies reports players pulled out of the OSHL because they weren't
paid for expenses.
"That's simply not true," Gumbley said. "All the players were given
their cheques on Friday to cover their expenses like air fares and
per diems. Everyone that was there got their money."
But without a lot of big names from the NHL, no television contract,
no interest from sponsors and a different concept of how the game is
played, the OSHL never really achieved the high expectations Gumbley
had when he launched his plan.
"Attendance really hasn't been bad," said Gumbley, referring to
crowds ranging from 1,900 in Yarmouth, N.S. to 3,500 in Moncton last
The games featured 4-on-4 hockey with penalty shots replacing minor
penalties and no red line. It produced a lot of games that finished
with both teams hitting double-digits.
He defended it as a "good concept" and one that was fan-friendly. "In
Moncton, we had about 700 kids that went through the dressing rooms
meeting players between periods," he said.
However, the Mississauga investment broker admitted that had he known
what he was heading for back in August when he came up with the
scheme, he would have handled some things differently.
"I'd have made sure we had more marquis players on board and a bigger
marketing plan," he said.
While no specific dates were ever set aside, the OSHL had planned to
play games in Western Canada next month.