Monday, May 23, 2011

The Unfortunate Case of the Madison Ice Muskies

nhl in wisconsin equalizer
This article does an excellent job of summarizing what happened to this doomed from the start franchise. It was written by Adam Hoge, who was also a broadcaster for the team and had a first hand account of the behind the scenes management, or lack thereof of the team. 

I'm not sure what it is about minor league hockey and Madison. You had the Capitols, the Monsters, the Kodiaks, and now the Ice Muskies all folding or moving, each one quicker than the previous. The Madison Capitols, although amateur, had relative success running for around 11 years during the 80's and 90's and producing NHL players like Brian Rafalski and Derek Plante. I remember going to a couple of Monster games, they seem to sell a decent amount of tickets and had some loyal fans. Maybe it was the cost of the facilities playing at the Coliseum, but they moved to Knoxville becoming the Speed. The Madison Kodiaks moved to Kalamazoo after 1 season of playing here in 2000. The Ice Muskies seem to be a different animal altogether though. Father and son "owners", Gene and John Rudolph from Chicago (go figure) somehow got $150,000 to start the team back in 2009.  It seems no one knows where this money went or if it even existed. None of the players got paid, the coach Rod Davidson was never paid and only got reimbursed for some expenses, and Hoge had a his checks bounce whenever he was able to get a hold of them and request them. Hoge and Davidson ended up taking on multiple positions to try and keep the team afloat, along with several people volunteering their time but the owners abandoned everyone and within its first season the team folded. The players were evicted from their apartments at the Regent when their promised rent checks from the Rudolphs stopped coming in. 

It's easy to focus on this apparent scam these owners were running if they really did have the money and the complete lack of professionalism on their part, but the most interesting aspect is without any real marketing to speak of people still went to the games. It may have been only a few hundred at the time, but if you would have had management with a brain what could have happened with the team? I, like a lot of other citizens in Madison, had no idea the team existed. There are people that are still trying to get the team running again, passionate fans who want to see another form of hockey in Madison. I haven't heard of any results this season, or if they were successful.  Even though it was the players that were hurt the most out of this, they still played the game with the dedication a lot of athletes say they would, but they proved that they would play for free. 

I hope those players find a way to continue to play the sport professionally and good luck to them in the future. Maybe someday semi pro hockey can be brought back to Madison with a decent management plan to give players like these a chance to reach the IHL or NHL.

No comments:

Post a Comment