We asked them all season long.  “Does the off the ice issues get to you guys at all?”  The answers from the Jackals’ players usually landed between, “Once we hit the ice, that’s the only thing that matters,” “We still have to go out there and compete,” and “we hear something every now and then, but it’s out of out control.”

Still it was clear that Elmira had a lot to overcome.  As they left town for the season, and some for good, they talked about what the team had to go through.  Equipment not working, or not available, and the organizations future still up in the air, they hunkered down, and skated on.

The Jackals season started with a host of questions.  Who would coach them?  Would there be an NHL season?  Would there be a Jackals season?  Dwight Mullins came in, and took a job that he wasn’t sure would happen.  He left a job in Allen, Texas.  He had to leave his family in Allen, Texas.  He made sacrifices for the team, before the team could actually make a commitment, that there would be a Jackals’ team.  He lead the team to their fifth straight Kelly Cup playoffs, and as of last week, is in a position to return to Elmira under the new ownership, later this fall.

The NHL’s late start caused a run on many AHL and ECHL players.  The transaction period looked like teams having a fire sale.  Just look at the Binghamton Senators roster, who are heading into the AHL playoffs.  Chris Wideman, Danny New, Jack Downing, Darren Kramer, Dustin Gazley, and Marc Cheverie are just the call ups STILL on the roster.  That doesn’t include the countless names that ventured back and forth all season long.

Some of the fans may look at this season and only see a first round exit to Florida.  They’re not looking at it close enough, or not taking in the entire picture.  No team in the league went through what Elmira did, and they still battled for a playoff spot, and eventually went on to the post season.  

Walking in to First Arena last week, the ice was gone, and the venue was a little warmer.  But hockey season can’t get here soon enough.  The new ownership should bring a much smoother experience for the team, so they can focus on what the hockey players should, the game of hockey.