With the sudden departure of the Rosetown Red Wings from Allan Cup Hockey West, the league was certainly teetering on the brink of pure disaster.
Last night disaster struck. The four-time Allan Cup Champions and arguably the best franchise in the league’s history, the Lacombe Generals, have called it a day, announcing that as of June 1 they will withdraw from the ACHW AAA ranks, leaving the “league” with just two teams.
The ACHW started this past 2018-19 season with five teams, but was down to four merely weeks into the season when the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs shut it down due to attendance issues and financial difficulties. The league dispersed their roster among its four remaining clubs and forged onto the Allan Cup.
The Generals played host to this year’s tournament and it was largely an amazing success that saw high attendance and excellent exposure of the senior game in Canada. The Generals faced their league rivals the Innisfail Eagles in the finals coming out on top for their fourth Allan Cup Championship.
Late last night, in a letter sent to the leagues offices, the Generals have made it clear that they are done and closing up shop. This early release to the public perhaps came to public eyes a bit sooner than the Generals would have liked, as the Innisfail Eagles mentioned on Facebook that the Lacombe Generals were “Hanging their skates up and stepping away from the league.”
Here are the entire contents of a three-page letter posted by the team last night.
What this says for the league remains to be seen but with just two teams left, the Innisfail Eagles and Stony Plain Eagles perhaps the writing is on the wall.
There are some rumors circulating about the relocation of a AA NCHL hockey club to Lacombe to take over the lease at the Gary Moe Arena while another option that has been mentioned is the AJHL coming to town, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
If this is the end of the Lacombe Generals, senior AAA hockey in Western Canada has seen its last days.
Senior AAA hockey has been hit hard in recent years with BC, Quebec and parts of the east coast no longer having leagues or even independent teams. Now the collapse of their western league due to lack of participants this is a black eye for senior hockey in Canada.
As it is the senior game has long been ignored by its governing body in Hockey Canada and it seems that this will just continue till its extinct.
It remains to be seen what will happen with next year’s Allan Cup being hosted in Hamilton.
We will update you all as this story continues to develop.