After 10 years in the Central Hockey League, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs finally captured the President's Cup as league champion this season, and they weren't about to let the moment pass without a celebration.
They skated the Cup on enemy ice and partied in the locker room. Three days later, they joined nearly 500 Mudbugs fans in a local Cup rally as "We Are The Champions" blared in the background.
It was a joyous time … which provided a momentary distraction from the fact that it was also a very dire time for the team.
Mudbugs owners Tommy and Leslie Scott saved the franchise from folding in 2009, but Tommy Scott said the owners lost proximately $1.5 million over the past two years while operating the team.
Scott declared that the team needed to inflate its season-ticket base from the 957 it had last year to 2,500 by the end of this week, which coincided with a CHL deadline for the team's participation in the 2011-12 season. Scott later sent a letter to the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce saying that "we must have season ticket or other ticket plan commitments of 1,750 by this Friday, June 1."
They fell short. On Thursday, Scott texted the Shreveport Times' Roy Lang III to say, "We're done … can't do it." With that, the Mudbugs went from winning the league title to ceasing operation before they could defend it.
Scott expressed a desire of 2,500 season ticket commitments by today, although 1,750 likely would have been enough to sway Scott to embark on a third season at the helm. The total barely eclipsed the 1,000 mark Thursday.
The final tally was 1,331 season tickets. In an odd twist, the Colorado Eagles, whom the Mudbugs defeated for the Cup, are also leaving the CHL — but they're moving over to the ECHL for next season.
KTBS has a video segment on the franchise's demise that really brings the sadness of this decision into focus, as Mudbugs team captain Brett Smith gets teary-eyed about losing "a place where I basically played my whole career … this is home."
The Mudbugs could resurface in 2012-13, either in the CHL or another league. But for now, they're just another example of the poor economy trumping on-ice achievement in minor league hockey; another example of a community losing a collection of players that had been dedicated to entertaining and serving it.
R.I.P. Mudbugs, at least for now. And thank you for giving the Puck Daddy readership this 2008 line brawl, and what remains one of the greatest fight calls of all-time from Travis Huntington:
Stick-tap to Daniel Adams and Heidi Bennett for the news.