The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Chiefs

February 15, 2010

Chiefs’ pending move has region’s fans wondering: What’s next?

(Continued)

JOHNSTOWN —

The Federal League, which not quite coincidentally borrowed its name from “Slap Shot,” officially opened for business on Dec. 17. Richards said four teams are committed for the upcoming season and he envisions two more joining before a league-imposed March 15 deadline.

Richards listed teams in Rome, N.Y., Thousand Islands, N.Y., Danbury, Conn., and Cornwall, Ontario, as members and added that negotiations are ongoing with Jamestown, N.Y., as well as other cities.

“We anticipate starting the season with six teams, and currently we have four,” Richards said. “We have several others. We should reach our six by March 15. We are trying to negotiate some leases with some facilities.

“Johnstown would fit our geography,” he added, noting that while local investors would be welcomed, a FHL franchise in the city probably would initially have outside ownership. “It would be appropriate with our league called the Federal League. We didn’t intend to name it that because we wanted to replicate Slap Shot, but it was a good name people would associate with hockey, and it’s not taken by anybody.”

Cambria County Commissioner P.J. Stevens is confident that arena manager SMG Worldwide “will pursue other hockey teams to keep hockey in Johnstown, at whatever level possible. They (SMG) are in many markets, and they’re an organization that understands our niche. They have connections across the country.”

Chiefs owner Smith said that during the past five years he had attempted without success to find a local owner or investor to keep the team in Johnstown. Smith said Sunday that if a local investor stepped up at the last minute, he would prefer to keep the team here. He considered the chances of someone local wanting to own the team unlikely considering the lack of interest locally in recent years.

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