Despite popular opinion, I don't have the cool million and a half dollars it would take to acquire a North American Hockey League franchise and fund it for an entire season. That is the kind of money we are talking about to join the NAHL club.
I know I don't belong at that table. With that said, I am content because the view is pretty cool from the press box; even if I did have to pry open the door to get in.
There are others that have been tried to circumvent that pesky little cash-on-hand requirement and ended up making a mockery of the level of play. This story is not about Barry Soskin or Mark Hammersmith directly, but we are certain that the NAHL is determined not to make THAT mistake again.
Junior hockey is much less of a gamble than the minor pro game, but it is still a gamble. One of the most important rules of gambling is to never bet what you cannot afford to lose... even if it is other people's money.
There are always a couple of deals in the air in regards to the purchase of existing NAHL franchises. I would completely support the league taking their time to approve each ownership group application. The last thing junior hockey needs is another pretender crashing the party. If anything, I would suggest that the Board of Governors raise some of the minimum financial standards along with a substantial increase of the performance bond.
Perspective buyers need to send a check to the league for the full purchase price of the team, give the league five days to verify the financials, and deposit the check. Once it is cleared, transfer the money to the previous owners. This is certainly not brain surgery, and prospective owners either have the money or they don't.
There is nothing like a $500,000 to $750,000 check to separate the players from the pretenders. One should never sit with the big boys in Vegas without enough money to play the minimum. There is no need to waste anybody's time with long-term payments or possible defaults. The NAHL is not the Bank of America, if the prospective owner does not have the capital required to buy the team, than most likely they will not have enough to fund it.
In the event of a catastrophic incident, maybe a hurricane, tornado, flood, or earthquake the team needs to have the ability to quickly move to another venue or city. The owner needs to have enough liquid capital to cover the expenses.
I'd also like to see the BOG amend the by-laws to allow the league to step in and resume operations of any team that fails to maintain the standards set for operation at the Tier II level of play. I am certain that current owners will do whatever it takes to ensure that the league does not have to resort to such measures.
In an effort to avoid another embarrassing situation, teams need to have their financials re-certified every season. In the current financial environment, things can change overnight. Everybody needs to go into the season without any concern for the other partner teams.
Players need to feel comfortable about the NAHL and not have to worry about being moved from one team to another. The league needs to set the standard and fight to maintain it. If teams are supposed to PROVIDE sticks, fitness facilities, equipment managers, required team apparel, and anything else that the owners collectively decide on, than lock it in. The days of having to pay for gym memberships, equipment deposits, tape, water, or anything else has to end.
Yes, doing this is going to require money. Boys, if you don't have it, others do. Tell Mark Frankenfeld that you don't have the ability to maintain these standards and he will do what it takes to get you out of the game.
Yes, money changes everything.