THE future of Newcastle Vipers looks set to be decided in the summer as general manager Jaimie Longmuir stated that no further progress regarding new ownership had been made.
Speculation has mounted since the turn of the year as to whether or not ice hockey fans in the region will have an Elite League team to support next season, as the Vipers announced that their survival was on a knife-edge.
Coupled with a number of players securing moves elsewhere – with the situation itself believed to have been a contributory factor – hopes of a buy-out grow dimmer with each passing day.
However, while Longmuir (pictured right) cannot provide – for now at least – the news the fans have been longing to hear, he insists he will keep working hard to ensure Elite League hockey is back on Tyneside next autumn.
He said: “In terms of potential new ownership and the club’s future beyond this season, there have been no significant developments and I don’t expect this to change greatly between now and the end of the season.
“It remains a case of doing all we can between now and then to show that an appetite for Elite League ice hockey exists and that a sustainable model can be operated.
“I am still providing detailed information to interested parties to enable them to conduct their due diligence, but it is unlikely anything will develop before the end of the season.
“While the situation is frustrating to say the least, as an organisation all we can do is perform to the best of our ability with as much respect and integrity as possible, and I am delighted that we have continued to do so despite the adversity we have faced on and off the ice.
“Incredibly, our club still finds itself in pursuit of a play-off spot which given everything we have faced, including the devastating loss of John Schwarz to injury and that we have only six imports active on the roster, is nothing short of amazing and (coach) Danny Stewart and the players deserve huge praise for this.”
Vipers had a mixed bag in terms of results last weekend. They were on the end of a 7-1 defeat to title-chasing Belfast Giants but bounced back in superb fashion 24 hours later to demolish Edinburgh Capitals 10-2, and now face a tough trip to Nottingham Panthers tonight.
Longmuir added: “We have a tough road game in Nottingham which with our depleted roster, will be tough to say the least.
“I know we have enjoyed some success over Nottingham at home recently but when on the road and the big ice surface versus quality opposition, it’s always going to be difficult for our guys, so a sense of realism is needed when considering certain results.
“While it would have been nice to get something at home this past Saturday versus Belfast, it was always going to be difficult as we are asking half a team to go up against a title-chasing squad firing on all cylinders – it’s a tough ask to say the least.”