Ice hockey players who had nowhere to go after the liquidation of two professional teams have found a new homenot as amateurs on a non-paying team, but on an officially registered team founded by the casino-owning Kangwon Land Corporation.
Kangwon Land, which has been searching for ways to support Gangwon Province in its bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, decided to establish an ice hockey team, and had its team foundation ceremony on September 15 at the Seoul Intercontinental Hotel.
Before the foundation of the Kangwon Land ice hockey team, the Halla Winia had been the only business-funded ice hockey team in Korea, endangering the status of this winter sport.
This is good news for the players who lost their jobs from the liquidation of two business teams, the Hyundai Oilbankers and the Dongwon Dreams in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Those former Hyundai and Dongwon players have been playing in an amateur ice hockey club, Mobile Edge, which was established last year, without salaries.
Out of 20 registered players on the Kangwon Land roster, 14 of them are from Mobile Edge, including team captain Park Jin-hong, a 30-year-old veteran who had played for the Hyundai Oilbankers. The majority of the players have played for the national team, and Kangwon Land has been given priority in drafting players from two universities. This will enable Kangwon Land to scout good players from both Yonsei and Korea Universities. I am happy that I can play ice hockey again, said Captain Park.
Headed by ex-Dreams coach Kim Hee-woo, Kangwon Land will play its first game in the nationwide hockey league in October in Chuncheon, Kangwon Province.
The team Mobile Edge, an ice hockey club of amateurs that had allowed players from the dismantled teams to continue to play, was dissolved with the birth of the new team.