German Elite League Hockey * English coverage of Germany's DEL Deutsche Eishockey Liga
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Lions are back in the DEL
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April 3, 2003; 02:35
Lions are back in the DEL
Bankrupt Wild Wings kicked out of the league
Frank Johne

Will stay with the organisation: DEL all-time leading scorer Mike Bullard

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Munich, Germany - Once again a bankrupt franchise has to withdraw from the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). Less than two weeks after avoiding relegation with a victory in the so-called “playdown series”, the Schwenninger Wild Wings franchise was revoked by the league. Thus the Frankfurt Lions, who were originally set to be relegated, can stay in the DEL.

The Wild Wings have to call it quits after nine seasons
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

In 2002, the Berlin Capitals and Revier Löwen Oberhausen folded because of monetary problems. Moreover, the Munich Barons were relocated to Hamburg in order to make the organisation more profitable.

Already facing bankruptcy, the Wild Wings got off the hook back then. Fan donations saved the club – at least for a couple more months.

However the Wings had to file for insolvency this February. They were able to finish the season and even avoid relegation with a 4-2 series win over the ailing Frankfurt Lions in the relegation round. All the effort turned out to be in vain, though. The rally for new investors was not nearly as successful as Schwenningen’s late season on-ice performance.

Opening of bankruptcy proceedings puts end to DEL stint

"We tried hard. But the outcome was not enough to prevent the opening of the bankruptcy proceedings before the March 31 deadline," the Wild Wings stated in a press release earlier this week.

According to league statutes, the opening of the bankruptcy proceedings results in an automatic revocation of the franchise. However the Wings will receive about US-$375,000 of financial compensation from the club that will take their place in the DEL. The number one contender is the Division-2 champion, which has yet to be determined.

Bullard: “Feel very sorry for our great fans”

Schwenningen’s relegation ends a 22-year stretch in which the team has played in Germany’s top division. After 13 straight years in the German Bundesliga, the Wild Wings joined the newly formed DEL as a charter member in 1994-95.

Club officials hope that the team can put together enough money to join the “2. Bundesliga” (Division-2) or the “Oberliga” (Division-3). Fan favorite Mike Bullard, the DEL’s all-time leading scorer who just retired at the age of 42, will assume a front office position or maybe even coach the team.

“I feel very sorry for our great fans,” Bullard said. “It’s hard to persist in the DEL as a small-market team. We hope we can play in Division-2 next year, where we would have a lot of derbies against local rivals like Bietigheim or Freiburg.”
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