The Erie Otters have lost quite a bit from last season. Superstar center Conor McDavid has moved on to the National Hockey League as the first pick of the Edmonton Oilers. It means the Otters will be looking to start over a new era in the Ontario Hockey League.
But the Otters lost more than McDavid from last year. They also lost the significant debt that threatened the existence of the franchise in Erie.
The Erie Otters were forced to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy last spring when former owner Sherry Bassin could not meet the franchise’s bills. But the bankruptcy process worked, as the team was able to stay in Erie, and a new owner, James Waters, bought the Otters in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for $7.225 million.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas Agresti concluded the Otters bankruptcy matter recently when he dismissed the case. The request from the Otters’ new owners to dismiss the case was granted because Waters has repaid all of the team’s creditors.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy case had to be filed when the Edmonton Oilers, trying to collect on loans made to Bassin,, tried to force a sale of the team to investors that would have moved it to Hamilton, Ontario.
The bankruptcy process saved the Otters for Erie. The Edmonton Oilers received $4.75 million from the bankruptcy estate, Bassin was paid $1.4 million, and the franchise is back on solid ground in Erie.
The Otters are also on solid ground in the OHL. Erie has won its first four games and is led by captain Dylan Strome, who was drafted third behind McDavid in this year’s NHL draft by the Arizona Coyotes. Just like the Pittsburgh Penguins situation of years gone by, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy saved a local sports franchise from abandoning its roots. Erie has its hockey team back.