Multiple sources have told me that the players from the USHL's Omaha Lancers are planning a boycott of this weekend's games in the midst of incomprehensible turmoil surrounding the team.
At the center of the controversy are reported budget cuts by the franchise that led to players not having road meals paid for - something that is standard across the top American junior league. On top of that, players were allegedly forced to pay for their own hockey sticks and tape - again, the standard in the USHL.
This is important because the USHL is a top developer of NCAA talent, which means its players cannot receive any money for being on a team. That's what keeps USHLers college eligible, versus those who go the Canadian major junior route, where the kids get financial stipends.
"All equipment is paid for here," said an exec from another team. "The USHL costs zero dollars to play in."
On top of that, video services were allegedly taken away from the players, depriving coaches of a crucial teaching tool. According to multiple sources, all of these cuts led to an impasse between coach/GM Chadd Cassidy and the team's president and ownership.
What happened next is still a bit murky, but some sources claim that Cassidy was fired last week, only to be asked to remain behind the bench because the Lancers no longer had enough coaches to work the bench. Bizarrely, Omaha has actually been a good team on the ice this season, winning seven of its past 10 games - including both of their contests this past weekend.
In a press release sent out this afternoon, the Lancers announced the hiring of an interim coach, Gary Graham, who had been with the under-18 Indiana Jr. Fuel program (he had also previously been head coach of the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets). The team also claimed Cassidy had stepped down to "pursue other opportunities."
Cassidy has received a good amount of public praise in the wake of the ordeal, including from Providence College coach Nate Leaman and parents of former players.
The Lancers have gone through a lot of personnel changes recently and Cassidy himself was only in his first year with the organization. President David DeLuca was a captain with the Las Vegas Fire Department before joining the Lancers in 2017 as head of business development but was named team president less than a year later. He is apparently a long-time personal friend of owner Koots DiCesare.
In the midst of all the chaos, family advisors are getting deluged with calls from the players asking for advice and, potentially, trades to other USHL franchises.
According to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota, other coaches and personnel have now resigned in support of their players and Cassidy. More on this story as it develops. Calls to Cassidy, the Lancers and the USHL have not been returned yet.