THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CASHMAN
By Big Chris: The Master Rantsman
Nobody ever said minor league professional hockey was the wisest investment in the world of minor league sports investing.
That said, no other sport has seen more league attempts than the hockey minors. Of all of the failed minor pro leagues that have come and gone in my 30 years on God's Green Earth, nobody has been at the helm for more of them than Fort Erie's own Jim Cashman, 36. Jim has seen 5 leagues fold under his watch: The Gulf Coast Hockey League, the Original Northeastern Hockey League of 2003-04, the International Hockey Association of 2004, (never played a game,) the Continental Professional Hockey League of 2005-06 and the revived NEHL of 2006-08. This is the amazing journey of one man who went from rags to rags before us at OSC's very eyes.
Jim Cashman was born in 1971 in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. After a modest junior and senior hockey career in Ontario, he set out to make his mark on the professional hockey world. That he did and how. His career consisted of 8 games with the Bakersfield Fog, the Russian Red Army Team, and the Tulsa Oilers of the West Coast Hockey League and the Central Hockey Leagues respectively. Jim even scored a goal in his final recognized pro league game. In eight games, Cashman registered one goal, no assists for one total pro point and two penalty minutes between 1996 and 2000. You can find his stats on the Hockeydb: http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdis ... ?pid=21732
Since Jim's pro hockey career was going nowhere, he sensed that the time was ripe to get into the executive end of things. During the mid 1990's, Cashman concieved of a type of league that hadn't been done in any sport other than baseball: A-Level Hockey aka A-Puck. (A-Puck being a phrase I coined by the way...) In 2001, Jim finally got his chance when he formed the Gulf Coast Hockey League. While the concept of 1000 seat arenas and a $4-6000/week salary cap were clearly quality ideas for pro hockey, the most expensive and risky venture in pro sports, it was the Gulf Coast League that saw Jim's greatest flaw: Money.
Ca$h Flow Problems:
The GCHL ran during the 2001-2002 season in Texarkan, Houston, Little Rock and El Paso and did not finish the season. The players were never paid and the only news outlets that did cover the league called it the "biggest circus I have ever seen.
"PATHETIC!" Was how former teammate Chris Blasius described the manner in which the team and league were operated. (Cashman was owner of all four teams, GM, and Coach and player for his Texarkan club, all while serving as league commissioner.)
Somewhere in mid season, Cashman disappeared and has not been seen in the Texas/Louisiana/Arkansas region since.
Home Sweet Home:
In 2003, Cashman returned to his home region, the Northeast where he tried to tap the very rich hockey fanbase. This time he named his league the North Eastern Hockey League, (NEHL.) The NEHL ran in Mohawk Valley, Poughkeepsie, Jamestown and of course York. The York Club was historic as it was the first time Cashman would don the #77 for his team forever known was the Ice Cats. The Jamestown club would become known as the Jamestown Titans because as Jim put it, "I was playing NFL Gameday with the Tennessee Titans and thought it would be a cool name for a hockey team."
While the names and uniforms were new, nothing else changed from the GCHL experience for Cashman as teams were thrown out of their rinks for lack of payment, floating teams were concieved late in the year and again the season was unfinished. (Blamed by a "players strike" by Cashman at the time.)
The 2003-04 season saw Jim become friends with fellow hockey player Rob Madia, whom would lead the Jamestown franchise. Not much is known about Madia other than the fact that he would always be, "a guy who screwed me over" as Cashman has put it. Madia and Cashman went toe to toe on the message boards late that season and Rob never worked with Cashman again. It appears that every year saw a new person that Jim would ultimately blame for "screwing him over". Rob had the dubious distinction of being the first one on record.
Another pattern that had been established in 2001 but this season saw it continue and that was the 4 team league. None of Cashman's leagues had more than 4 but usually ended up with less. Sometimes they only had 4 teams on paper alone. The other major pattern was two fold. The season being cut short, a Cashman owned/captained team getting into the playoffs on a technicality as a result, the second place team refuses to play him and Cashman getting blown away in the finals pattern.
In fact it happened twice in 3 years to the Ice Cats. The first time they got owned by Jamestown, (with Madia,) and the second time to the only credible franchise in NEHL history, the New England Stars. Now I'm not saying Jim tried to fix games but it sure looked like it was the case. This haphazzard manner in which the season was run was one of many reasons why even the stable franchises he had, (none of which owned by Cashman,) walked away soon after the season.
In the summer of 2004 Jim began a working relationship with Joe Kolodziej, (former Lahey of the Month and current Michigan State Pen inmate.) Needless to say their meltdown was covered rather extensively on OSC and was the subject of an article written by Suzanne K. Taylor in 2004. ( http://www.staylorlaw.com/Buffalo_Examiner.html ) One thing you will notice is the similarities here to Jim Cashman in the years prior to this and the years since this was printed.
After the Joe K. fallout Jim lay low for a while resurfacing in 2005-06 with the Continental Professional Hockey League.
Cashman owned all 4 teams, but only 3 ever played a game. In fact, the league as a whole played exactly 6 games before shutting down. A combination of no money, bad press in St. Catherine's and Pittsburgh, visa issues and no money killed this league attempt. Sound familiar?
During the 05-06 debacle Cashman found a new person to blame for his woes and that was Pittsburgh Pounders coach Brian Cercosimo. Brian reportedly paid the players their agreed money out of his own pocket to prevent a mutiny. Wow, what a backstabber...
During this time, Brian reportedly recieved an email from Cashman as the league was falling apart stating that he "planned on ending it all." Yes kiddies, Cashman threatened suicide to continue bullying his employees, that he STILL hadn't paid. Brian pretty much told him to go to hell for pulling this stunt.
The 2006-07 season marked Jim's most successful season of all, not as a player mind you, but league wise as the NEHL returned with two independent owners in Findlay, Ohio and Danbury, CT. All but the final 2-3 games of the season were played. The only games that were poorly attended, (meaning less that 50 fans,) were Cashman owned teams and he cancelled the last 2 games of the season to eliminate the Danville Pounders from the playoffs so he could get into the finals. Matt Crawford, Findlay Freedom owner, refused to play the playoffs due to Cashman's incompetance giving Jim and his Ice Cats, (again homeless after being kicked out of Utica,) a free ride into Danbury for the finals.
By the way, the New England Stars capped a 22-0 season with a 2 games to 0 sweep of Cashman's Ice Cats. The only other highlight of this season was Cashman's man sized beating on the ice that he took from Stars' tough guy Phil Esposito.
Cashman did nothing but badmouth the Stars and his own employees all season while refusing to pay his players most nights unless they cornered him. He paid the Danville Pounders with money at an ATM machine hours after their second game against the Ice Cats that season but they were never paid again afterwards. The only thing keeping the Pounders, (same name, new city,) afloat was the fact that they averaged around 250 fans per game, keeping the arena paid.) Due to lack of money on Cashman's part, the team couldn't afford to travel so they iced an "Eastern Team" that season adding insult to injury for a club was a mess from the beginning. Without the hard work of Cameron Estes, the team's GM/Coach, it is doubtful that they would have lasted until Thanksgiving but they developed a small but devoted following and survived all the way to the end of the year despite a last place finish. Of course Cashman hated them for it.
During the off season, Stephen Seeger, owner of the New England Stars pulled out of the NEHL as did everyone else except Cashman of course but this still didn't stop him from trying yet again. Matt Crawford apparently returned for the second season in a row marking the very first time a past owner brought his team back for a second season in the same city.
At this point, the league seemed to only exist so Cashman could pay his rent month to month as he STILL had no money, the players were STILL not paid and he was still getting kicked out of arenas left and right. This time, he was removed from Kensington Valley Mi, (the latest home of the Pounders,) after they played just one game. He was also kicked out of Norfolk, Ontario, (the 4th home of the Ice Cats in 5 years.) Players continued to have a hard time crossing the boarder from Canada to the US and vice versa. (Cashman was quoted as to have said many times, "you don't need a visa to play pro hockey in the US or in Canada".) This resulted in very few games being played at all this season and none with teams playing full strength.
The final gun went off for the league when Wayne Premo stopped paying monthly league payments for his team, the Copper City Chiefs due to the state of the league and the fact that none of the teams were able to continue. Jim begged Wayne for the money claiming that, "he needed to pay his rent." For a man who was a hockey impresarrio, Jim couldn't even afford gas to get to the arena let alone operate a professional hockey club. (He only brought the Ice Cats to Rome, NY for their last game because Premo said he would cover Cashman's gas bill.) Yet everyone was to believe that Jim could afford to own an entire pro hockey league?
SIDE NOTE: Jim always told me and numerous other sources that the Pounders franchise was named as such as a slang term for sex with random women. "Pounding broads, get it?" was how he put it to me in various conversations we had over the years.
Jim's alledged con artestry didn't limit itself to ice hockey leagues either, in the summer of 2007, he laid the groundwork for a ball hockey complex in Fort Erie. http://forterieballhockey.com/ It was here that he began working with former classmate Jane Spencer of Hamilton. Long story short, he financed various ball hockey items on her dime and she is now suing him for it. (Confirmed by the law firm representing Spencer.) Like Joe Kolodziej and his owner's credit card being used for hunting gear, Jim could be brought down for a similar piece of stupidity.
On a side note, Cashman has been barred from ever operating anything out of the facility he tried to set up his ball hockey rink in.
Jim's refusal to accept any real help from anyone, help himself, get a job, or even accept that he could never make it as a professional hockey player have all contributed to his losing complete touch with reality and why he is penniless, friendless, and possibly homeless as of this printing. He hasn't even paid child support for his kid, (who's existance he blames on the girl claiming she "trapped him", sound familiar?) I don't believe Jim Cashman is a happy person and frankly, I don't see things improving for him anytime soon. One thing is for certain, I sincerely believe that his pro hockey career as an owner, manager or player is finally over.
Jim, I defended you for years, I was fair with you when nobody else would be and even trusted you to do the right thing. At this point it is clear that you are in a world of trouble that you brought on yourself and it is finally time you had professional help. You are a danger to those around you as well as to yourself and you need help. Do it before you end up like Joe Kolodziej. (In jail for years to decades on end deluding yourself into believing that you are always hours away from being sprung.)
Many people hate Jim Cashman but the only emotion I feel for him now is pity.
Rant's over, end of line.
...and I must state at this point that my screen name stems from my former college methods with alcohol, not women. (Not for lack of wanting, just too nice and too shy for my own good)
Speaking of the effects of mind-altering substances, I've known one or two people who will offer a comparison between such drugs and "high-flying ownership." As such, I offer the opinion that your pity makes you an enabler. If you're going to slap the guy in the face, slap him good and don't think twice about it. He likely needs it and then some.
For those of you who weren't around back then or have forgotten. I was threatened with a lawsuit for "Slander" 3 and a half years ago (when I was only 16) by Joe Kolodziej.
It was over information I posted on a website (4hockeyfans.com; was deleted when he threatened them with a lawsuit as well; they have also reset the database since then) that cited it sources and was just public info posted on the IIHL's official website such as the league not finishing it's games (and admitting it), standings showing one team playing 1 gmaes with 2 teams playing none, as well as members, such as myself, of the Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Community (http://boards.sportslogos.net) we screwed over during the IIHL and IHA days by nonpaymnet for logo and website design. (at least one member still has a "Boycott the IHA" banner in his signature)
I had documented evidence completely supporting my case and I felt confident knowing I was being sued for the totally wrong thing as it was on the internet and therefore Libel.
I'm almost afraid to learn how much money Jim has swindled out of people over the last 5 years.
Please, if any of you know of arenas, or other businesses, or people etc. please contact them. They have a right to know where to find the ever disappearing cashless....I know where he is though, and I would be pleased to let everyone know this fact.