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Augusta Lynx facing tough financial times

by Brian Compton /
Are the Augusta Lynx disbanding?

If they are, then coach John Marks just can't catch a break.

The Charlotte Observer briefly reported on its web site Wednesday afternoon that the Lynx were meeting with league officials in preparation to disband the team, and the Charlotte Checkers had been tabbed by the league as a substitute opponent for Thursday night's scheduled Lynx road game against the Gwinnett Gladiators.

Augusta is also scheduled to start a home-and-home series with Charlotte this weekend, beginning at James Brown Arena on Saturday night.

"In response to published reports about the future of the Augusta Membership, the ECHL hereby announces that contrary to those reports, the Augusta Lynx continue as a member in the ECHL," the league said later on Wednesday in a statement. "Any rumors to the contrary are simply not true."

But Lynx owner Dan Troutman admitted to the Augusta Chronicle that things aren't going very well economically. His team currently resides in last place in the South Division.

"We're playing in Gwinnett on Thursday and playing at home this weekend," Troutman told the paper. "I'm not going to tell you there's no substance to it, because we have been struggling to keep things going, but we're still here."

If there is substance to it, then it's a situation much too familiar to Marks, who coached the Pensacola Ice Pilots last season and began recruiting for the 2008-09 campaign before being told the team was going on voluntary suspension.

Unless things turn around quickly, it sounds like Marks may have to find another job before next season.

"We're pretty well on our budget for this year, but the cash flow coming in and out has made it tight," Troutman said. "We've only had two weekend home games so far, and that's hurt, but we're going to keep fighting. We're very hopeful that we'll continue on."

ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna also denied the since-removed report to the Augusta Chronicle, but made no bones about the fact that the league may not be able to help the Lynx financially survive through the 2008-09 campaign. No ECHL team has ever suspended operations in the middle of a season.

"We've never had it happen in 21 years, and we don't want for that to happen," McKenna said. "It's never been asked of us (to help out a team financially). I don't want to deal with that hypothetical, but we're not set up that way."

New inductees -- The ECHL announced four more inductees into its Hall of Fame this week: John Brophy, Blake Cullen, Tom Nemeth and Rod Taylor. The ceremony will take place on Jan. 21, 2009, in Reading, Pa.
"This is an outstanding and very worthy group of inductees with a diverse background," McKenna said. "John Brophy is a legend in professional hockey who has left his mark at all levels. The fact that he is second all-time to Scotty Bowman in career wins says a lot about his longevity and competitive nature.

"Blake Cullen played a pivotal role in the early development of the ECHL and is well respected as a builder and administrator in both baseball and hockey circles. Rod Taylor was one of the most prolific goal scorers in league history and Tom Nemeth was a perennial ECHL All-Star and a consistent point-producing defenseman throughout his career."
Around the ECHL -- Charlotte acquired defenseman Brian Deeth from the Johnstown Chiefs to complete the Nov. 22 trade that sent rookie forward Wes Clark to Johnstown. Deeth had one goal in five games for the Chiefs. … The Trenton Devils sent rookie forward Dan Travis to the Fresno Falcons for future considerations. … Kevin Baker of the Florida Everblades was named the In Glas Co ECHL Player of the Week after notching six points in two games. The Everblades have won eight straight games. … Phoenix Roadrunners forward James McEwan was suspended for two games for his actions in a game against Fresno on Nov. 23. … The Ontario Reign received defenseman P.J. Atherton from AHL Grand Rapids. … Falcons center Oren Eizenman was promoted to AHL San Antonio. He had 13 points in 10 games for Fresno. … Wheeling's Curtis Darling was named the Rbk Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week after going 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average and a shutout. Overall, Darling is 6-2-3 with a 3.04 GAA for the Nailers. … Darren Schwartz and Robert Otten were named the first two inductees into the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame. The pair will be honored prior to Saturday's game against Elmira at WesBanco Arena.

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