Black Bear 2. USA Hockey 0.

Murry Gunty
2 min readJul 31, 2022

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Black Bear Sports Group Wins Arbitration Against Rogue USA Hockey Affiliate CHC

A Black Bear Sports Group affiliate purchased Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, CT in January 2022. Champions also sponsors the Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, a designated Tier 1 club that has been a fixture of hockey in Connecticut for the past 20 years under the direction of hockey legend Bob Crawford. Historically, the Wolfpack have fielded Tier I clubs at most levels from 9U thru 18U. The Wolfpack are one of three such designated clubs by the Connecticut Hockey Conference (CHC), including Mid Fairfield and the Yale Bulldogs.

The Board of CHC, in what can only be described as a “midnight massacre,” convened a special meeting of the Board on March 6, 2022. Without publishing an appropriate agenda, the meeting convened with the sole purpose of revoking the Wolfpack Tier 1 designation, clearly a retaliatory move against Black Bear as this meeting was convened in violation of CHC’s own By-Laws. Representatives from the Wolfpack acknowledged that the Board had the right to revoke the Tier 1 designation, but not in the middle of Tryouts at a Special Meeting. The Wolfpack offered up that they would agree to this proposal if it was delayed a year. CHC declined and pursued their rogue strategy and revoked the designation at the meeting.

Multiple affiliates across the country have attempted retaliatory moves against Black Bear similar to this move by CHC. Black Bear quickly struck back and immediately filed an arbitration claim. CHC tried to cover its tracks and clean up the record including convening a new vote at a regularly scheduled meeting in May 2022. But everyone knew that CHC had erred in its decision, including the arbitration panel. In a clear rebuke of CHC, the arbitrators ruled in July 2022 that Black Bear was correct, and that this move at a special meeting—in violation of CHC’s by-laws — was inappropriate. Moreover, they agreed that CHC could revoke the designation, just not in the middle of tryouts. As a result, in yet another clear Black Bear victory vs. a USA Hockey Affiliate, the arbitrators reversed the CHC decision and the Wolfpack get to maintain their designation as a Tier 1 club for the 2022–23 season.

Black Bear is grateful for the work of the arbitration panel and the acknowledgements by the panel of Black Bear’s growing influence in the world of hockey and the need for USA Hockey affiliates to accept, rather than fear, the changing dynamic between rink owners and hockey clubs.

To quote the panel, hockey without ice is field hockey.

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Murry Gunty

Murry Gunty is the founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.