Saying that it was the only way the Rangers could finish out the season, Denver hockey team owner Richard Gerry said the club filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.
"By taking this step, it gives us a chance to finish out the season and the playoffs," said Gerry. "Without it, we wouldn't have been able to." He said the move will give the Rangers the working cash to pay for travel and other operating expenses to keep going."It's embarrassing, disappointing," he said. "But sometimes you've got to swallow your heart and do what's best."
Gerry said the Denver team is "reorganizing. We need to give ourselves breathing room, time to think and sort out the different options."
Those options, he said, include staying in Denver, moving to another city such as Kansas City, which has an attractive deal for any team wishing to play in Kemper Arena, and not operating next season.
Rumors have floated around the league lately that the Rangers might play some playoff games in Kansas City. "That's obviously not going to happen," said public relations man Joe Ruhland, who said the Tuesday move will mean playoff games will be in Denver. The Eagles and Denver could meet in the first round, a happening that would benefit both clubs' attendance and travel budgets.
Denver is, of course, an important ally for Eagle owner Art Teece because of travel costs in the IHL, and Gerry said he would call Teece and new Phoenix owner Lyle Abraham Wednesday to explain his position.
"I'd like to stay in Denver. This is where we started," said Gerry, whose ownership group took over from one headed by Dennis Champine last summer. Champine's feuds with the Denver press resulted in ill feelings last year, and the Gerry group took over late in the summer. That late date was a mistake, Gerry said, because several months of summer groundwork need to be done for a successful season.
Denver has a league-low attendance of 2,000 and needs 4,000 to break even. Losses are in excess of $500,000 this season and could climb to $750,000. Gerry said he expected losses, "but not of this magnitude."