Alaska Aces’ Head Coach Rob Murray had a hard time finding the words.
“It’s shocking. It’s disappointing. It’s … I could go on and use as many phrases as I want,” Murray said in an interview Thursday after the announcement was made that this would be the team’s final season.
Before Thursday’s win at Elmira, Murray spoke of his surprise. For him, the Aces have become a special organization. He guided the team to a Kelly cup title in 2014.
Though a professional player in the National Hockey League and a coach in the American Hockey League for many years, that win has carried important meaning for him. Now, if he wants to continue coaching professional hockey, he’ll be looking for work elsewhere.
”It’s a big blow.” said Murray. “I feel for the community, I feel for the ownership, I feel for players on the team but it’s something you just have to deal with and move on.”
The team says it’s committed to the players for the rest of this season. Left wing Garet Hunt harbors no ill feeling towards the organization, which did what it could to keep the team in Anchorage.
“They really take care of us. They’re behind us all the time. And we understand it’s a business and you’ve got approach it that way,” Hunt said.
Left wing Tim Coffman, who began his professional career with the Aces, said he was blindsided by the announcement.
“It was kind of shocking to know that the team you started with won’t be there, you know, maybe ever again,” Coffman said.
With 21 games remaining in the regular season, the team remains committed to it’s players and fans. A possible playoff appearance could extend the season, and give fans in Anchorage a little more hockey before it’s time to say goodbye.