The team has been in turmoil lately due to budget cuts and it let go of coach and general manager Chadd Cassidy two weeks ago. On November 18, players walked out saying they would not play in road games against Waterloo, Lincoln and Des Moines this weekend. The USHL has declared the games “no game” and will make every effort to reschedule the games.
RELATED: Omaha Lancers players walk away, coaching staff resign en masse after tensions rise
Instead of playing games, players met with representatives of the USHL and USA Hockey on Friday, Nov. 19, according to a league press release. Players met outside the Ralston Arena and discussed the team in smaller groups and individually. After that, players received updates on Saturday and there was an extra virtual meeting on Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning, USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson and Josh Mervis met the players virtually. At that meeting, Mervis was introduced as a USHL representative to oversee the Lancers’ operations and players were introduced to Gary Graham, who was named the team’s head coach on November 18.
Graham was a coach for the Fort Wayne Komets from 2009-19. He coached the Indy Jr. Fuel 16-and-under AAA team in the North American Prospects League in 2020-21 and had coached that organization’s 18-and-under team this season before being named the Lancers coach.
On November 18, Sean Walsh, who started the season as an assistant coach for the Lancers, was named to replace Cassidy. According to a story by Brad Schlossman, Walsh entered the office of team president Dave DeLuca and asked about a possible pay increase if he will be the head coach for the rest of the season. DeLuca became furious, cursed Walsh and told him to leave the office. DeLuca, a former firefighter in Las Vegas, chased Walsh down the hallway and continued his rant, Schlossman reported after multiple interviews with people aware of the situation.
Walsh, assistant coach Tate Maris and trainer Nick Hart have all resigned. Walsh, Maris and the team captains held a meeting where Walsh told the players that if they wanted to play this weekend, he would be there behind the bench for them. But if they decided to walk, he would walk with them. The players decided to boycott the three games this weekend. Walsh resigned. Team coach Nick Hart followed.
The Lancers placed Deluca on administrative leave on Nov. 20.
On November 19, an investigation into the Lancers was initiated by a third party, who is a SafeSport coordinator. SafeSport is committed to ending sexual, physical and emotional abuse on behalf of athletes.
The researcher has begun interviewing players, former coaches, front office staff and owners, according to the USHL press release.
Schlossman reported that tensions began to mount earlier this season as the Lancers, owned by Anthony DiCesare, made major budget cuts, including the team’s video software, player equipment and even after-game meals for players.
The Lancers have won the USHL’s Clark Cup seven times as the league playoff championship and the Anderson Cup five times as the regular season champion. The Fargo Force is also a USHL franchise.
Omaha has 19 of the 28 players on its roster who are committed to NCAA Division I men’s hockey teams, according to the USHL website.
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