ECHL Richmond Closes Shop

By Seth Keggins

…this is no April fools joke….

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, the ECHL Richmond Renegades (both the Washington and San Jose affiliates in the ECHL) will be closing up shop after 13 years in Central Virginia.

“We can’t make it happen,” said General Manager Paul Gamsby.

The Renegades could resurface somewhere down the road as the ownership group Richmond Sports Partners, L.L.C., has asked the East Coast Hockey League for a voluntary suspension that could allow the team to return at a later date. When that later date is, is anybody’s guess.

The Renegades will lose in the neighborhood of $400,000 this year and a total of more than $1.8 million over the past three seasons. Markel Corp., a Richmond-based specialty insurer – pretty much decided to call it quits late last week. But made it official yesterday morning to General Manager Gamsby.

“He said to me it was clear we can’t continue in the ECHL,” Gamsby said. “The issues are still there, [and] we’ve run out of options.”

Current players gathered at the Richmond Coliseum for a final meeting and end-of-season interviews with coach Gord Dineen, were given the bad news by Gamsby. “I think they were a little bit shocked and disappointed,” he said.

The Renegades won the ECHL championship, in 1994-95. They also claimed the Brabham Cup, which goes to the team with the best regular-season record, in 1995-96.

Only 3 times they failed to qualify for the playoffs including last year’s and this year’s team, which finished 35-31-6 with this past Sunday’s shootout loss to Roanoke (3-4).

There is still a possibility that another East Coast Hockey League franchise could still move to Richmond. Also, another possibility is membership in the year-old and low-budget Atlantic Coast Hockey League.

Player movement: The Portland Pirates (Caps AHL affiliate) have called up defensemen Jonathan Zion and Ryan Van Buskirk.