ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — When the Southern Professional Hockey League cancelled the remainder of the season, the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs had seven games left at the Berglund Center.
“Every year you see something different,” team president Mickey Gray said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I never had to deal with this before.’ But this, having to cancel partway through the season, certainly is a first for us.”
For Gray, the last week has been a whirlwind of emotions. The Rail Yard Dawgs president dealing with the end of a season much sooner than anticipated.
“We’re dealing with the frustration of a loss of a season and trying to get our year end stuff all in order and saying goodbye to the players and all that,” Gray said.
After the hockey season was initially suspended Thursday, the SPHL decided to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule three days later.
And in a letter to fans, Gray wrote that the financial impact will be devastating.
“06 Our reality is that we lost 25 percent of our home games and that means we lose 25 percent of our overall year revenue. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in,” Gray said. “To lose 25 percent of your revenue, give or take, is just, that’s a financial hardship.”
The players, who were on week-to-week contracts, were provided with an extra week of compensation after the league made the decision to cancel.
“It’s not all the way to where they were, but it’s something we want to do to try and make that transition as easy on everybody as possible,” Gray said. “And then we also assisted with a lot of guys travel out to make sure that, especially in these uncertain times, that they were getting home safely.”
Gray said there’s no question that the SPHL made the right call and he assures fans that hockey will be back in Roanoke.
“This town has lost hockey before. We are going to be here. Our organization is strong. We have a very dedicated ownership group that is committed to keeping hockey here,” Gray said. “Despite the gut punch, being knocked to the mat and all of that, we are going to pick ourselves up and we’re going to go on.”
The front office already preparing for the first puck drop of next season.