The Lacombe Generals are ceasing operations as of June 1st, just months after the team captured their fourth Allan Cup on home ice. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

Lacombe Generals withdraw from ACHW and cease operations

Lack of teams, difficult regulations and ACHW ‘internal animosity’ leads to decision

The four-time Allan Cup Champion Lacombe Generals are withdrawing from Allan Cup Hockey West (ACHW) and their long-term future remains in jeopardy.

Generals General Manager Jeff McInnis, coming off the Generals fourth Allan Cup victory on home ice, forwarded the Lacombe Express a letter sent to Michelle Skilnick of Hockey Alberta informing the governing body of the Generals’ decision to cease operations as a AAA Senior Hockey Club for an undetermined amount of time beginning June 1, 2019.

“In Alberta we used to have teams in Fort Saskatchewan, Millet, Wetaskwin, Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House, Carstairs, Sylvan Lake, Okotoks, Hinton, Slave Lake, Horse Lake and Fort McMurray. In Saskatchewan we lot Ministikwan, Lloydminster, Shellbrook, Wayburn, Balgonie and now Rosetown

“The list goes on and on and there simply is not enough of us left to sustain the model of senior AAA Allan Cup brand hockey as we now know it.”

The 2018-19 season saw the Rosetown Red Wings, the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs and now the Generals all leave the ACHW, leaving only the Innisfail Eagles and the Stoney Plain Eagles remaining.

McInnis sent a letter to ACHW League Commissioner Richard Gregory explaining the difficult choice to cease operations

“The list of issues and contributing factors is as long as my inseam perhaps, but so is the list of things and people to be grateful for. Our regrets are few but one is that we only had the two of you at the helm for such a short period of time,” he said.

“Sincerely we believe that had we had the two of you leading our league for 5-10 years, we would not be in this position”

While the main reason was the lack of viable AAA teams left to compete, several other reasons to call it quits were outlined in McInnis’ letter to Hockey Alberta including the existence of difficult regulations regarding import players and affiliated players; and the current format of the Allan Cup tournament.

“Not enough teams, not enough leagues and the annual difficulty we have finding consistent playoff structure leaves us with a large lack of street credit with the public when we are trying to sell our league and the fact there is still a 6-team national tournament is a whole problem in itself,” McInnis said in the letter.

In a preamble email to sent to Gregory, McInnis outlined his thoughts for the future of Allan Cup hockey and why they would not be attending league meetings.

“We don’t need to throw mud on our way out the door but you know our enjoyment was at it’s peak when we played a team like Rosetown or other out of province clubs as the respect was there,” the email stated. “The internal animosity here now is beyond comprehension and our tolerance. We can’t carry on trying to operate a league when there isn’t one with nearly enough teams.

“Can you imagine how many conflicts we would have on and off the ice if we tried to run some kind of phoney schedule with the three teams remaining?”

In the same preamble, McInnis expressed some optimism for the future of Allan Cup Hockey.

“Maybe it has to burn down to grow again in a different format, as people never understood that those letters we submittted (to Hockey Alberta) were not for anything but the greater good,” he said. “I think it was fairly clear that we the Generals could win our share of hockey games with the rules the way they were.

“We didn’t need them to change for us to have success, but we needed things to change so we could have have opposition and and growth of Allan Cup Hockey nationally.”

It is unclear at this time whether the Generals will ever skate again.

McInnis, in his letter to Hockey Alberta, thanked the supporters of the Generals.

“We thank everyone and anyone who gave their time to support this league and this hockey,” he said.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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