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The CHL Will Run the Mallards This Season

The Quad City Mallards will play this season after all, but it was close. When it looked like no new owner could be found for the minor league hockey team, the Central Hockey League stepped in at the last minute - yesterday - and took over.

Today commissioner Duane Lewis announced the league will run the franchise as long as necessary, even if it takes the whole season. "We haven't been in this position before, but we fully believe in what that market has to offer. With the past history and the proud history the Mallards' organization has had, we want to get it back up to the level of its pinnacle."

Former owner, Club Nine Sports, was several hundred thousand dollars in debt, and wanted to close down the team.

Former Mallards owner, and consultant, Howard Cornfield, says having the whole season to find a new owner will allow them the time to carefully screen would-be buyers, and find the best one.

And he hopes this will break the cycle of recent years, of a new owner every year or two. "We've gone around and around and it's got to stop. The fans deserve better, and the community deserves better. And I'm glad they're taking a breath to say, we're going to make sure the next people that come in here understand the business and don't intend to learn it during the course of a season. We've already shown it doesn't work."

Even at the highest level, leagues occasionally have to step in and take over a team - Cornfield says recent examples include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, and the New Jersey Devils.

The new season for the Quad City Mallards opens Friday night at Tulsa, then the two teams will play again Saturday night, but at the Eye Wireless Center in Moline.