At its annual winter meetings in Phoenix, the International Hockey League approved the Phoenix Roadrunners as a new team for the 1989-90 season, determined that the league will have a five-team Western Division that will aid Salt Lake's financial situation and unanimously selected Tom Berry to succede retiring commissioner Bud Poile.
Berry will take office June 15 during hockey's annual summer meeting session. He has been IHL director of officials.The Phoenix team was the only one approved for play next season, but owner Lyle Abraham wasted no time setting up an office in Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, where the club will play, opening a bank account, naming the club Roadrunners, the same as it was in the old Central Hockey League, and in calling a noon press conference in Phoenix.
The five-team Western Division, something Eagle owner Art Teece has been saying is necessary for the Eagles' financial survival, will include Phoenix, Salt Lake, Denver, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. The league's two divisions will play unbalanced schedules, meaning they'll play teams in their division more than those in the other division.
In other action, the league denied Salt Lake's appeal of the 10-game suspension against Eagle Martin Simard for the fight in which Denver's Mark Janssens received a severe head injury Dec. 10. Simard's suspension involves sitting out all remaining games against Denver, and Janssens is suspended from all games against the Eagles. Janssens has yet to return to play, but there is word now that he might be back before the end of the season.