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MINOR LEAGUE HOCKEY UPDATE
Published January 4, 1995
HOW'S IT PLAYING IN PEORIA? The Blues' minor league affiliation with the IHL Peoria Rivermen is in question, according to a report in the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. At the "urging" of new coach & GM Mike Keenan, the Blues have explored options with the AHL. Last week, the team sent a letter to Labatt Breweries, which is seeking to purchase a new AHL franchise for Moncton, New Brunswick. Rivermen Owner Bruce Saurs: "Nothing would surprise me. But I have to admit this is a shock." But Blues President Jack Quinn maintains that no move is planned. Still, several NHL teams have growing concerns that the IHL "has become a veteran-dominated operation unfit for player development" (Jeff Gordon, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/4). IS LOCKOUT CHILLING CHL ATTENDANCE IN TEXAS? Despite hopes to capitalize on the NHL work stoppage, two CHL teams in TX have seen their attendance decrease. The Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire "are playing to the smallest home crowds in their three-year history." The Freeze is averaging only 2,638 fans per game, last in the seven-team CHL, and the Fire is drawing 3,491, down from 4,017 of last year. Sean Heilbron, Dir of Media Relations for the Freeze: "We thought the NHL lockout would help us. ... It may have hurt us. The Stars created such a hockey fever in Dallas, and that fever has kind of waned." CHL spokesperson Jason Rothwell believed league attendance would improve in TX, but added: "It lost some recognition when the NHL went out" (Terry Egan, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/1).