Thursday, April 28, 2005

Surprise! Problems with the WHA (again)

Ah yes the on again, off again status of the WHA is off again (supposedly only a temporary glitch). The much heralded WHA Bobby Hull Invitational tourney originally scheduled to take place in early June has been pushed back a few weeks due to "organizational difficulties".

Seems that Phil Esposito who was the "organizer" of the tourney has either quit or been fired depending on which press release you are to believe. Esposito claims he left the WHA when the paycheques became rather infrequent, a claim countered by WHA owner Ricky Smith.

Smith said that there were some organizational problems to take care of but the tourney will go ahead albeit a little later than expected.

The WHA's phoenix like resurrection has suffered its fair share of false starts and near deaths over the last year or so, originally the loop was to be up and running so as to take advantage of the NHL lock out, but that never panned out when money problems and venue difficulties began to accumulate.

The league was sold to Smith who vowed to have things stabilized and looking good in time for a preview tourney in the spring, the one now delayed and stepping gingerly across that thin ice.

If the tournament does actually take off in June Toronto fans can forget about a trip to the Ricoh Centre, originally planned as one of the three city venues it has been dumped. Instead negotiations continue with the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, plans to play some of the games at GM Place in Vancouver apparently are in flux now as well. In a quote that won't win Smith any friends outside of the Golden Horseshoe the WHA president said "but we might end up running the whole thing out of one rink, such as Copps, because this was to be at first an Ontario show."

Ah yes, that will warm the hearts of hockey fans from Newfoundland to British Columbia, a league dedicated to an Ontario show! Hope he's not hoping for a tv deal anytime soon.

With Espo taking his leave from what appears to be a rather laughable venture, one wonders how long the Bobby Hull name will be attached to the Bobby Hull invitational, the Golden Jet may not with to attach his reputation to something that appears to be in such disarray.

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