Sources within the North American Hockey League have confirmed that Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld's employment contract has been renewed for another three years. We would like to express our gratitude to the NAHL's Board of Governors for continuing junior hockey's version of Other People's Money. Fail or succeed, Frankenfeld's tenure has made for great content for us here at JuniorHockey.com.
What can we expect to see the NAHL do for the next three years? As long as Frankenfeld is at the helm, we are sure to see the career of his good friend Tony Curtale be extended. Curtale will be able to continue his reign as the most important celebrity coach in the league. There is nothing like having the commissioner's shield covering the tracks of every transgression.
We also are very sure that the league's love-hate relationship with this site will continue. In the interest of good will, this site submitted a cooperative agreement to the league in advance of the scheduled board of governors meeting that took place last week. I am being told that the proposal was to be considered, but support for it diminished when my article about an inappropriate player-coach relationship was posted. The league elected to shoot the messenger instead of what they should have done, look into the relationship.
After facing the reality of the situation on the West Coast, Frankenfeld has coughed up two certain lame ducks (Simi Valley & San Jose, Ca) as possible new franchises to save the West Division. Maybe it is a pipe dream, or even just wishful thinking, but trying to force NAHL franchises onto two suspect organizations is very irresponsible. These two groups can find a laundry list of failed franchises that started out in a much better position than these two teams.
What should the two Alaska teams do? Flights in and out of Chicago are cheaper than going to San Jose or Los Angeles. Also something that should seriously be considered, Alaska Airlines offers non-stop service from Anchorage. Fairbanks and Kenai River would be better off subsidizing the cost of air travel in order to play in whatever is left of the North or Midwest Divisions.
The elephant in the room, the persistent chatter about the Central Hockey League's interest in junior hockey, has created a number of whispers among NAHL owners, but very little concern. That could prove to be catastrophic.
As the ball of time continues to roll, the Central Hockey League is poised to make a serious entry into junior hockey. When they jump, the splash is certain to have a drastic impact on the NAHL's ability to operate effectively.
Any advantage that contraction would have giving the league in regards to level of play, gets tossed out the window if the CHL enters the picture offering a Free-to-Play model that also includes free billeting. With sanctioning expected to be provided by AAU, the CHL will be able to operate freely without interference from USA Hockey. This also means that the CHL will not be subject to international transfers, import restrictions, or have to honor NAHL roster protections.
I am certain that reputable leagues like the United States Hockey League, Atlantic-Metro, EJHL-South, MnJHL, NORPAC, and AAU's Western States Hockey League will be able to form working relationships with the CHL. Others, and certainly the NAHL, will not. The NAHL can chalk up that situation to Frankenfeld's own history of courting CHL franchises for his own financial gain. Hey, you guys elected to keep him around for another three years, not me.
Does anyone want to try and set the over/under for the number of new teams that enter the league over the next three years of Frankenfeld's new contract? I am thinking ten...and taking the over. How many will he lose? Again, ten, and again, I am taking the over.
What do you think?