Established in 1981, the Canberra Knights were the oldest team in the eight-team Australian Ice Hockey League, and one of the league's last two original teams alongside the Sydney Bears. But on Wednesday, February 26, just six weeks before the start of the AIHL season on April 12, Knights owner John Raut announced the team was finished, effectively immediately.
He cited losses in the tens of thousands, as well as pessimistic concerns that they'd get "smashed again like we did last year" -- they lost many games by double digits, and he expressed -- as the reasons for the fold.
It was sudden and unexpected. Despite practicing the night before, many of the Knights players learned their fate at the same time as the public, via a Facebook posting.
But the players refused to accept their fate. And neither did the fans in the Australian capital, a loyal group that sold out the Phillip Ice Skating Centre where the Knights played on most nights during the season, despite the team's poor record. Maybe a cynical Raut was willing to let the Knights go gently (and suspiciously, as many felt his numbers didn't add up), but he was the only one.
The next morning, a group of players, led by Knights captain Mark Rummukainen and assistant captain Jordie Gavin, alongside Knights fans, launched a bid to save the team by running it themselves.Read More »from After owner folds Australian pro hockey team, stranded players form their own