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Monday, January 9, 2006
Minor league Barons moving to Worcester, Mass.

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Barons, the top minor league affiliate of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, plan to move to Worcester, Mass., after this season.

The American Hockey League board of governors approved the move on Monday. The Sharks' ownership group signed a 10-year deal with Worcester, where the Barons will be known as the Worcester Sharks next season at the DCU Center, Sharks minor holdings president Michael Lehr said.

"Locating this franchise in Worcester has many benefits, including a closer proximity to other AHL clubs, more favorable travel issues, a wealth of hockey fans and a building better suited to our business model," Lehr said.

The Barons have lost millions of dollars since the Sharks moved the AHL club from Lexington, Ky., to Cleveland in 2001, Sharks president Greg Jamison said.

The Barons, who have ranked among the league's worst in attendance, are in the final year of a five-year lease at Quicken Loans Arena.

Len Komoroski, president of the NBA's Cavaliers, said the team still believes pro hockey can work at its downtown arena and will try to bring a new team there.

While the Barons haven't attracted a large following, the team's nickname holds special meaning for hockey fans in Cleveland.

The original Cleveland Barons played in the AHL from 1937-72 and the second edition was in the NHL from 1976-78. The current Barons replaced the Cleveland Lumberjacks, an International Hockey League club that folded.

Worcester had an AHL team for 11 seasons before the franchise was sold and moved to Peoria, Ill., at the end of last season.