Hold on to your hockey sticks -- it appears the American Hockey League really will be returning to Baltimore.
The AHL will hear up to five presentations from hopeful franchise owners during its meetings in Boston on Monday and Tuesday, and one of them will be from Bob Teck, the New Jersey businessman who is heading a group of investors that would bring a new AHL franchise here this fall.
Teck said yesterday he has reached oral agreement with Capital Management for use of the Baltimore Arena. And AHL president Dave Andrews said he is hopeful everything will go smoothly and that a franchise will be awarded to the group before the league meetings adjourn Tuesday.
"I'm not in a position to comment about the specifics of the application," said Andrews. "But, personally, I'm very impressed with Bob Teck and his group and excited about the possibility of the league returning to Baltimore.
"There is no reason for me to think the application won't go smoothly, but I can't predict the board's vote."
Teck and his partner, Alan Gertner, have been working on the AHL project since last November, when they visited the Portland Pirates and former Baltimore Skipjacks owner Tom Ebright.
It was Ebright, frustrated by a small fan base, a lack of corporate support and an inability to "tell your story" in the local media, who moved the Skipjacks out of Baltimore in 1993.
"I think it's exciting," Ebright said. "They've done a good job of preparation and two years have gone by since I left. I just believe this time it will work -- new people, fresh ideas and a new franchise. I'm excited about it. I'm just sorry it couldn't have been Joyce [his wife] and me."
Said Teck: "Until they say yes, it isn't yes. But I think it will be yes, and then, after all the lawyers go over the final legal wording, we'll sign the formal lease agreement for the use of the arena."
Andrews said the Teck group has done its homework and is "close to an affiliation with an NHL team."
Andrews would not reveal which team that might be, but sources indicate the Baltimore team could be a farm club of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Thursday, Teck was in Baltimore to look at the organization's prospective offices at the Arena and to talk about the building's ice plant.
"The ice is the only current problem I see, and I think that's workable," Teck said.