The Quad-City Mallards already have rescheduled the start of training camp on three occasions. The start of the regular season might be next.
The team canceled the start of training camp again Monday, failing to show up for a scheduled ice time at 10 a.m. at i wireless Center. With three days before the scheduled season opener at Wichita, the Mallards have yet to practice.
“I’m hoping and praying (we practice today) or Wednesday,” Mallards coach Terry Ruskowski said.
At the time of the scheduled practice, Ruskowski still was in Texas, while several of the Mallards’ Canadian players were north of the border because of issues with their work visas.
However, CHL commissioner Duane Lewis said Ruskowski likely is to get his wish. Lewis said the league plans to help the Mallards get ready for the season and the team had a new president scheduled to arrive Monday night.
He also confirmed Monday night that the league was working on altering its schedule because the league believed it would be unfair to force the Mallards to play a game with almost no practice time.
As soon as the league is confident that the Mallards have figured out off-ice issues such as insurance and lodging, it will give its approval for the team to practice.
“There’s a lot of things that need to be in order, and until those were in order, nobody felt comfortable,” Lewis said. “We need to make sure the athletes are able to be taken care of.”
Lewis said practice could start as soon as this afternoon if ice time is available. Meanwhile, Ruskowski is scheduled to arrive at the Quad-City Airport this morning.
“We’re getting things finalized,” Lewis said. “The last pieces seem to be coming together now. ... Everything has got to be in order, and we may have to make some adjustments to the schedule.”
Lewis would not reveal the name of the new Mallards’ president, only referring to him as “a person with great experience in the sports world.”
Wichita Eagle reporter Jeffrey Lutz said on his Twitter feed on Saturday that the Thunder has a backup plan to host the Tulsa Oilers on Friday if the Mallards could not play, although the Thunder did not respond to a message seeking confirmation of those plans.
In addition to the altered schedule, Lewis said the league would be working closely with the Mallards to get them ready for the season. Although both he and league spokesman Bob Hoffman admitted the team is not as far along as the CHL would like, Lewis said several things are already done and some others are nearly complete.
He expects the team’s existing personnel and support to be crucial to the Mallards’ preparation.
“It’s funny how some of things come really quickly,” Lewis said. “We know the locals will be key to everybody joining forward. There’s not really a learning curve or the things that go into a brand-new franchise. We’re not as far down the path as we would have liked, but we’re ready to help and other teams are as well.”
Mallards owner Jon Pritchett, executive vice president Ryan Simmons and team spokesman Brian Lavelle did not return phone messages, and the Mallards’ offices at the i wireless Center were closed Monday.