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Denver Cutthroats suspend operations, will not play next season

TJ Fox, right, battles the Sundogs’ David Rutherford during their Jan. 25 matchup in Denver this past season.
TJ Fox, right, battles the Sundogs’ David Rutherford during their Jan. 25 matchup in Denver this past season.
Hector Acevedo/Denver Cutthroats

Next season can now sleep with the fishes for the Denver Cutthroats. The Central Hockey League franchise announced Wednesday, that they would be suspending operations for the 2014-2015 season, effective immediately.

“We feel the Denver market remains a strong, viable area for minor league hockey, and has an ownership group that is passionate about making it work,” said CHL Commissioner Steve Ryan. “We are confident that with time, they will return to the ice and re-establish themselves in the community for the years ahead.”

The Cutthroats will attempt to secure additional investors with the hopes of returning to play for the 2015-2016 season. In lieu of the suspension of their operations, all the players they have signed to contracts for the upcoming season (including Sean Zimmerman, who was just signed last week) will immediately become free agents.

In their second season, the Cutthroats enjoyed a high level of success last year, making it all the way to the CHL Championship series. They fell in the series to the Allen Americans in five games.

While a finals appearance may have created high expectations for the Cutthroats, there was a lot of uncertainty going into the season even before this announcement. Doug Armstrong, the only coach the team had ever known, relinquished the head coaching duties in June to focus on the front office fulltime; with former Cutthroat player Brad Smyth set to take over as coach. They also no longer had an affiliation with an NHL team, as the Colorado Avalanche replaced the Cutthroats with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets, as their second-tier minor league affiliate.

The Central Hockey League as a whole may also be facing uncertainly, as the league is reportedly in talks to merge with the East Coast Hockey League. A team in that league also calls the Centennial State home, as the Colorado Eagles (who moved from the CHL to the ECHL a few years ago) play in Loveland.

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