On a snowy day in Worcester, Massachusetts, the sun rose on a new day for hockey in the city.
After sometime without professional hockey, the ECHL announced hockey will return to the DCU Center for the league’s 30th season in 2017-18. This will give time for owner Cliff Rucker to assemble a staff and build the market up the right way, rather than rush to put it in place in less than a year.
“We are pleased to welcome Worcester, Massachusetts to the ECHL,” ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna said. “Cliff Rucker made a very impressive presentation to our Board of Governors. He laid out a strong business plan, that has broad-based community support and is prepared to take the proper lead time to execute a successful introduction.”
It would appear that Rucker has already started putting the staff together. Worcester Telegram’s Bill Ballou reported and Rucker confirmed the franchise has hired former New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres scout Toby O’Brien to be the team’s President and General Manager. O’Brien brings plenty of front office experience to the table, having worked as a general manager for the Johnstown Chiefs for ten seasons (1996-2006).
Also at Monday’s press event, Rucker announced the vote for the new franchise by the ECHL’s board of governors last week was unanimous.
Worcester will play its home games at the DCU Center, a 12,239-seat building located in downtown Worcester. The DCU Center opened in 1982 and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation which was completed in 2013. Reports indicate the franchise and DCU Center has agreed to a five-year lease.
“I am honored to be representing the city of Worcester and Central Massachusetts as the 29th Member of the ECHL and look forward to working with our staff to put together a winning team, that serves as a great ambassador of our region throughout the United States and Canada,” said Cliff Rucker, owner of the Worcester Membership.
With the addition of Worcester, this will give the ECHL 29 teams, one short of their mandated 30 team cap.