The Omaha Lancers (USHL) announced today that head coach Chadd Cassidy had “stepped down” and Gary Graham has been hired as interim head coach to replace him. However, multiple outlets have reported, and sources have confirmed to Neutral Zone, that Cassidy was fired last week by team president David DeLuca.
The team then asked Cassidy to coach last week’s games because they did not have enough coaches available to run the team, and Cassidy agreed so as to not punish the players.
Cassidy was just hired this past July.
Per sources, Cassidy and the team were at odds over severe budget cuts. The team stopped providing postgame meals after some games and some players were supplying their own equipment. In addition, the team’s video software subscription was reportedly canceled and according to one report, the trainer was being asked to double as the equipment manager.
According to multiple reports, most (if not all) of the remaining hockey operations staff resigned today in support of Cassidy. The players refused to take the ice for practice and will reportedly boycott this weekend’s scheduled games.
According to multiple sources, team president David DeLuca had an altercation with a member of the coaching staff today, which sparked the wave of resignations among those in hockey operations and sparked the subsequent boycott by the players.
Assistant coach Tate Maris told The Athletic that “ownership’s lack of commitment to provide adequate resources, combined with management’s poor behavior toward players and coaches” pushed him to resign.
“I’m proud of our guys and how they handled this,” Maris said to The Athletic. “These are kids who had to make a very very tough decision that in the end, I think will impact their careers positively, and I’m very proud with how they handled it. It’s been a tough day, but I feel very good that a stand is being made and that the kids are taking their hockey career and future into their own hands, which takes guts to do.”
The Lancers said in a release announcing the hiring of Graham that Cassidy “stepped down earlier to pursue other opportunities,” but multiple sources have confirmed that is not true.
The Lancers are owned by Anthony DiCesare.
The USHL released a statement on Thursday afternoon that read:
“We are aware of the reports about the Omaha Lancers and are actively working to resolve this matter. We have standards we take seriously in order to provide the best possible experience for all players who participate in the USHL.”