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Falcons: 'No truth' to reports we're moving

Date: 12/19/2014

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Falcons aren't flying away just yet.

An Internet report stating the Falcons were on the move was vehemently denied by team officials and eventually retracted by its author.

Gerry Cantlon, a reporter for the Hartford Wolf Pack fan blog, issued a report on Dec. 18, citing “three knowledgeable,” but unnamed, “AHL sources,” that outlined a massive re-tooling of the league, that included alleged plans for the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Falcons’ NHL affiliate, to buy the team and move it to Cleveland. While the Lake Erie Monsters currently operate in the city of Cleveland, the report states the team’s NHL affiliate, the Colorado Avalanche, purchased Monsters with plans to move that team to Cleveland, clearing the way for the Falcons’ move.

“There's no truth to the report,” Megan Cahill, manager of Communications and Community Relations for the Falcons, told Reminder Publications via email later that evening when queried.

The Falcons' Director of Hockey Operations Bruce Landon echoed that message, stating, "That report is absolutely not true. We have an affiliation with Columbus and a lease with the MCCA (Massachusetts Convention Center Authority) for another year, but there have been absolutely no discussions regarding Columbus buying the team."

Springfield Falcons President Sarah Pompea also told this newspaper the team has had no discussions with anyone – whether it be Columbus or any other organization – regarding the sale of the team.

"We have been making internal changes that I believe will be beneficial to us moving forward and we are committed to keeping the team in the city of Springfield as long as the city is committed to having us," she said.

Todd Sharrock, vice president of Communications and Team Services for the Blue Jackets, declined to discuss the report, stating the team does not "comment on rumors."

Landon also pointed out that Cantlon's report has since been removed from

On Dec. 19, the website issued a retraction and apology penned by the site's editor Mitch Beck that stated, in part, "The writer of the piece, Gerry Cantlon, is a dear, personal and trusted friend who has been involved with professional hockey as a writer for a long time. But, he made mistakes in his piece yesterday. He wrote his story based upon conversations with sources he’s trusted and who have a track record of having been accurate in the past. In this case however, they were wrong … and very wrong! I am deeply embarrassed that it was that wrong and I apologize for whatever problems this story has caused anyone."

At the crux of the report is the recent announcement that the Oklahoma City Barons would cease operations at the end of the season and move to Bakersfield, CA. The Barons are the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.

The Barons were established after the Oilers opted not to continue its affiliation with Springfield after the 2009-2010 season, wishing to own and operate its minor league partners. It was at this time that Springfield then-President and current Director of Hockey Operations Bruce Landon reached a player development agreement with Columbus.

In the four seasons since, the Falcons posted three winning records, twice won the Northeast Division crown, made two postseason appearances and this year set the franchise record for consecutive wins. Under Edmonton, the Falcons set a record for longest winless streak in 2010.

Cantlon’s report also states an NHL franchise has been in “preliminary talks” regarding moving their team to Springfield and further indicates “sources with first-hand knowledge” expect MGM Springfield to take over management of the MassMutual Center, which is owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and managed by Global Spectrum.

MGM Springfield outlined taking over management of the MassMutual Center in its original proposal.

"At the conclusion of the current management contract with Global Spectrum, MGM Resorts proposes taking over full corporate management of MassMutual at a financial arrangement that would allow it only to cover its direct cost of such management. There would be no profit for MGM Resorts built into the agreement. We understand this would save the Center approximately $250,000 annually," the gaming company's May 2013 update to its partner and sponsorship proposal reads.

The Falcons have an affiliation agreement with Columbus and a lease with the MassMutual Center that both run through the 2015-2016 season, with an option for two more years.

Reminder Publications has reached out to and is awaiting responses from Global Spectrum, MGM Springfield the AHL league office.

For more information on the future of the Falcons, read next week's edition of The Reminder and Chicopee Herald.