Saturday, November 13, 2004

OSHL running out of time

The OSHL, four on four hockey experiment may be about to come to an end. With only two days left before its self imposed deadline for progress, the currently suspended league may finally pack it in.

The league which began play shortly after the lockout then suspended operations in order to retrench has been taking on water ever since its debut. A quick tour through the Maritimes didn’t put the operation onto a firm footing and with players abandoning North America for the comforts of European life; the anticipated star power drawing card hasn’t materialized.

When first thought up it, originally was to feature a fast paced end to end game on the ice, heavy on offence and light on hitting it would bring back the days of pond shinny. However the crowds have been less than large for the few games that have taken place thus far, as Hockey fans in Ontario and Atlantic Canada turn to other outlets for their hockey fix. After a quick burst of interest in week one, the numbers dwindled rapidly as the product failed to attract much in the way of name players. The no contact nature of the shinny also seemed to turn off what few fans were turning out to such outposts as Sarnia, Halifax and towns in between.

Needing at least 40 players to make things go, league founder Randy Gumbley has found only half that number so far willing to barnstorm across Canada. From his original list of 84 possible players in September, 53 have instead chosen Bern and Stockholm amongst others, over trips to Brandon, Saskatoon and points west, east and North of Toronto.

Gumbley requires another 20 or so to sign up by Monday or he will have to cancel a planned December tour of the prairies. If that happens it’s expected that he will close down the league and let it join the WHA as ideas that seemed good at the time but weren’t able to cash in on Hockey’s season of hell!

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