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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 4:20 pm 
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With several more teams coming on board in the next two seasons, the ECHL will actually have the opportunity to have reasonably balanced conferences instead of one conference being larger than the other:

Northwest: Alaska, Victoria, Idaho, Stockton, Fresno
Southwest: Bakersfield, Long Beach, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas
North: Reading, Toledo, Peoria, Johnstown, Dayton, Cincinnati

South: Florida, Pensacola, Bradenton, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas
East: Charlotte, Wheeling, Atlantic City, Trenton, Greenville
Atlantic: Augusta, Gwinnett, Columbia, Pee Dee, South Carolina

Burlington would join the East Division and Reno would join the Northwest Dvision when they begin play.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:51 am 
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Re: Gwinnett

I cannot stand that there is a team named after a county. Ugh.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 1:58 pm 
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Gunner, I ought to become a Derby fan on principle. ;D

Mr. Yeager, I think it's time for ECHL School.

Stockton will be the moved Atlantic City franchise. I've heard rumors about AC and the UHL, and poor whispers about another E team, but they need to cool jets for a year until going there again. The numbers don't make sense to put another team there... and I admit that I take a dim view of the track record of minor pro sports in gambling towns.

Peoria will shut down after this year, and are receiving Worcester's AHL franchise. UHL Quad City, who was rumored to be considering the E, is now courting Cleveland's AHL franchise.

Cincinnati died last year, and I see no way that they're coming back. Cinci already has AHL... though a consideration of using the name Cyclones over Mighty Ducks should be in order.

Louisiana was taken over by the league in January, there are no buyers stepping forward, and the Cajundome just wants to wash their hands of hockey. They're pretty much dead team skating.

Texas very well should go when Louisiana goes. They've never drawn well. They might hang on one more year, but I have a hard time seeing how the costs fit the revenues.

I'd keep an eye on Greenville and Pee Dee. Greenville used to be a model franchise, but attendance has fallen consistently for a few years. Both may be looking at the purgatory known as the SPHL.

Long Beach may be in trouble as well, but recent statements seem to be in the "hold on another year" mode. The owner is still pushing for a long-discussed arena proposal in Ontario (as in near Pomona and San Bernardino in the Inland Empire, not the province).

All the expansion rumors, strangely, are coming out of the Northwest. Both the E and the major junior WHL are courting Chilliwack BC, Nanaimo BC is mentioned as a possibility if a proposed new arena is started, and the E has stated that the first order of business is a team in Washington or Oregon. That's a little hard to fathom, because the WHL has the good Northwest markets (Tacoma is an old WHL AND WCHL failure). Tri-City (Kennewick-Richland-Pasco in Eastern Washington) ownership has all but waived the white flag and is looking to sell (this is the source of the Chilliwack WHL reports), but I have a hard time believing that's a viable ECHL market. I don't think Yakima Sundome is big enough.

Things to watch, however... Portland could lose the Winterhawks if the city and new management mothball Memorial Coliseum, and Rose Garden rent is raised. They and Seattle (sliding attendance) were mentioned in rumors of Edmonton trying to trade their AHL franchise for a WHL franchise. Many of the smaller WHL markets are caught in the NHL lockout (they receive money from the NHL for every player developed), and some may be forced to move. Meanwhile, AHL Utah has let one rumor of getting out of the AHL quietly slide, and there are questions regarding sliding attendance and travel (closest opponents are Edmonton and probably San Antonio); they could be looking at namesakes of old IHL opponents if they go ECHL.

With all that going on, I'd hold off on any alignment issues. After all, minor pro hockey teams are born to die. Moreover, the reason the alignments are skewed is because travel costs are of major importance to these teams.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:15 pm 
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Derby County!?!?! Alas, my friend, at least they have rep and the counties in the UK carry more austerity and respect for their sense of place and history. Cheer on the Rams all you wish!

Gwinnett County, GA, however, is far different. The poster child for suburban sprawl, Gwinnett used its political clout to devour volumes of state funds for roads, sewer, etc. Suffice to say the relationships between developers, contractors and the government officials became incestuous as the County officially made growth its primary industry. At least part of the reason Atlanta is as drab a city as it is stems from the not-at-all subtle competition they faced from the suburban homelands of all the corporate CEO's. Gwinnett's town center is the largest mall in the SE; Their main street is an eight lane thruway with stoplights aplenty. I despise them for what they are and how they got there.

At least neighbor and chief rival Cobb County (where I grew up) had good old fashioned issues: Religious bias, cold shoulders towards poverty and traditional political infighting!! ;)

Thanks for the minor league hockey class. Seems to me these guys surpass the MLB minor leagues for lack of coordination and vision. Related to the woes at the NHL level? Quite possibly, and perhaps another victim of the NHL's expansion: As the top level changed in markets and dynamics, the focus of the minor leagues had to have been altered as well. Much like their soccer brethren, I think the stakeholders of the sport need unite to ensure that the local leagues remain the best options (in the case of hockey) for players, lest European leagues become too viable a rival.



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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:50 pm 
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Point taken on Gwinnett. Ick. Still, that sounds more like a Gwinnett issue than a "county" issue. OTOH, we could speculate on what would happen if the Everett Silvertips were the Snohomish Silvertips.

I probably forgot to mention an odd rumor or two about Victoria, but I'll only go there if asked. There's a reason or twelve that minor pro doesn't seem to stick in Canada.


Last edited by pounder on Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 11:18 am 
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Time for my alternate speculation. This latest piece of news can tug things the other way:

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,,36~84~2769173,00.html

There's been some long-time speculation that the AHL would end up extending further west, because the western-based NHL teams prefer to have their potential callups closer to home, and there are some regional marketing advantages to this arrangement.

Now, in the big post I landed here, I had mentioned the situations in Edmonton (where they are rather publically trying to trade away the AHL team they just received) and Utah (which has had rumors for some time given proximity to other teams). If this rumor about Colorado Eagles comes true, that changes the equation... where I use "considerably" or not after "equation" is an issue unto itself. Thing is, with the California markets where they are, and with Vancouver practically always having pined for a close-in affiliation (and Victoria is just a ferry ride away), you could see that western ECHL presence be eaten away.

Well, something to think about, anyway.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:49 am 
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Calgary placed their dormant "owned" AHL club in Omaha, to face off this fall. That doesn't directly affect the ECHL, but a western shift for the AHL is now more than hinted, which might eat away a bit at the E... unless it stays Midwest and turns the E into a West Coast league. ;D

WHL Tri-City has indeed filed to move to Chilliwack, and if approved by the league, eats up another E expansion option. Conceivably, that opens up the Tri-Cities as an expansion option for the E, but most of us who give a darn have a hard time believing it will work.

Awaiting word on why small markets and large markets mean anything to minor league hockey. I know that markets under 300,000 are generally insufficient to host a pro team.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:38 am 
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There have been a couple of surprises.

TOLEDO is going dormant. They play in a really old arena, so a rebirth of the Storm is apparently contingent on the city building a new arena.

There are published rumors that Pee Dee is going the same route. There are varying stories Florence emerging in the SPHL, or Myrtle Beach receiving the Pride when a proposed arena there is finished, or any number of other concepts.

The WHL denied the application for the Tri-City move to Chilliwack. There are rumors that the Vancouver WHL team is trying to talk some of the 8 teams that voted no into revoting. No word on whether the E is ready to pounce yet.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 11:53 am 
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Chilliwack is resolved. The now "old" Tri-City ownership will become owners of an expansion WHL franchise in Chilliwack, and Tri-City has been sold to a new ownership group including Stu Barnes and Olaf Kolzig (both former Ams).

Pee Dee officially went dormant. The ownership, instead of folding, is pursuing a proposed new building in not-too-far-away Myrtle Beach. There are rumors that the Texas Wildcatter ownership was actually considering moving them to Florence, but there's some serious denial of that one today.

Louisiana, predictably, folded.

Toledo is in the ether. There's an effort (reportedly by the non-profit that owns the Mudhens baseball team) to buy the Storm and keep them in Toledo; nobody knows how to bet on this one.


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 Post subject: ECHL Realignment
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 7:57 am 
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Another update. Toledo apparently, um, weathered their storm. They live.

The AHL just went to wacky. Cincinnati, who had an AHL team and an ECHL team a couple years ago, now have neither. The AHL team is going dormant for a year because their affiliation parent dumped them for Portland ME...

...which is really odd, because Utah AHL also has gone dormant. It's barely a rumor in Utah that the owner there is going to place a Utah team in the ECHL or the CHL (one news report almost inexplicably says the CHL has a better shot, no matter that the geography screams for ECHL membership... this after Utah is bowing out of the AHL primarily due to being so far away from opponents). BTW, Phoenix Coyotes are looking to sue the ownership of Utah due to breach of contract between affiliate and parent. Meanwhile, the second part of the rumor is that the Utah AHL club will end up in a somewhat complex sale-and-move to Orlando with the Florida Panthers as the parent, while Phoenix is supposed to be shown the way to affiliate with the current San Antonio team.


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