Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Around the League: ECHL, CHL Changes Expected; SPHL Plays Wild Card

Antoine Roussel wails on Chris Bruton in the first period of the teams' December 8th matchup. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
As the Texas Stars continue their series with the Barons and the AHL marches on in general, other leagues have already begun to shift and change around them. Here's the list of changes, both confirmed and unconfirmed so far.
  • The Vancouver-owned AHL franchise (formerly the Rivermen) will not operate in 2013-14, bringing the league down to 29 teams again.
  • The Peoria Civic Center will host hockey though as the Rivermen name will come with them to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). That was an unexpected happening. Steelheads coach Brad Ralph coached in the SPHL before joining Idaho.
  • The Bloomington Blaze will join Peoria in the SPHL, abandoning the CHL. It is rumoured that other teams, such as Quad City could also bolt from the CHL to form an SPHL 'Midwest' conference or division. That makes sense given that...
  • The CHL's Allen Americans and Rapid City Rush are widely rumoured to be heading for the ECHL this offseason.
Alright. That puts the CHL at six teams that operated this year. They expect to add two more teams via expansion but it doesn't seem like the league is financially viable with even eight teams as spread out as they would be. Brampton and Arizona are going to be really in trouble in terms of their travel costs, living on the edge of the league's area with no one they could even bus to.

Here's a few other news items and notes:
  • The Third Intermission has been doing their final goodbyes. It's pretty gut-wrenching to think about shutting down a franchise. I can't fathom writing a goodbye post for this site and hope I never have to. [The Third Intermission]
  • More locally, the Pond Hockey Club of Austin has been making some progress on their ice surface near 183 and Mopac. GM Jerry Taylor expected to start building out the ice surface, but not laying ice, by last week. [Pond Hockey Club]
  • Former Stars goalie Matt Climie has re-signed with the Chicago Wolves on an AHL deal. He had several offers from European teams but stayed in Chicago due to his loyalty to the ownership there. [TheAHL.com]
  • Finally, if you didn't read Brandon Worley's scouting report from Game 1 of this series, you should. It's always good to read about the players we see on a nightly basis from someone with an outside perspective on the team. [Defending Big D]

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