OKLAHOMA CITY - Hockey fans will have to hang up their jerseys at the end of this season.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma City Barons announced that they are ceasing operations of the team at the end of this season.
"Well, we're disappointed that we're losing professional hockey in Oklahoma City, but we do understand their decision and we support their business decision as they go forward," said Jim Couch, city manager.
Team officials say the decision comes after the Barons weren't able to complete an affiliation agreement with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.
"It's purely a financial decision. The economics of the current operating model just don't work. We've tried for many years to try and tweak the operating model, to get the team to operate in a manner that is sufficiently profitable, and it just hasn't happened," said Bob Funk Jr., CEO of Prodigal.
Over the past five years, Couch believes the Barons have created several hockey fans across the state.
"The fans have been fantastic. I can't fault our fans for the level of support that they brought every game. It's them I'm probably most sad for because they have supported us," said Bob Funk Jr., CEO of Prodigal.
The Edmonton Oilers released the following statement, regarding Thursday's announcement:
"The players, coaches and fans of the OKC Barons have been outstanding partners to our organization as our development team affiliate. We have enjoyed a solid working relationship with the City of Oklahoma City as well as with Prodigal, the Barons' management company, throughout the team's five years. The decision to move on from Oklahoma City, although not easy, will open new opportunities for the Oilers organization and our AHL business. We want to thank Bob Funk Jr. and his team at Prodigal for their partnership in bringing professional hockey to Oklahoma City," said Patrick LaForge, Oilers Entertainment Group president & COO.
In all, the Barons still have 26 games left this season.