Formation of USPHL Raises Many Questions
As teams took to the ice this weekend during the EJHL Showcase, held at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts, there were some obvious matchups that would garner more attention than others.
When the final buzzer sounded on Friday for one of the earlier EJHL vs AJHL matchups; the Boston Junior Rangers (AJHL) defeating the Middlesex Islanders (EJHL) by a score a of 2 -1. It certainly brought positive attention to the newly formed Rangers as well as other teams in the AJHL competing in the event. But what's been widely reported was the alleged meltdown by the Islander's well-paid Head Coach, Sean Tremblay immediately following the loss.
Several reports indicated that Tremblay was bitter over his team's performance as if losing to the Boston Rangers was beneath him as a coach. Tremblay reportedly dressed down his team and told them that their performance might negatively impact his team's stature in the newly formed USPHL, the new "Super League" being formed by Tremblay, Peter Masters of the Bruins, Jim Hunt of the Hitmen and Rich Touzos, owner of the South Shore Kings.
Aside from Tremblay's reported entertaining "meltdown", the results may answer some questions about the future of hockey in the northeast, but it also raises many new questions.
As for the competition between the AJHL and the EJHL, the EJHL bested the AJHL overall in the win/loss column (3-11-3) but all games were competitive, with nearly every game being within 1 to 3 goals. That's what most would call PARITY and with so much of it, what exactly is the USHPL really selling? Even this year's World Juniors matchups didn't enjoy as much parity.
After many discussions, meetings, sidebars and the like, as to what the landscape of hockey will be in the northeast, (typical hockey politics) its got several club owners in panic mode, and for all the wrong reasons.
The EJHL South, another EJHL money-grab, is supposedly coming to end, and the word is the southern teams have no desire to renew with the EJHL or new USPHL, but are looking for another League to join. I guess it wasn't worth it after all? Dan Esdale was holding court....but why? Is there any truth to notion that some EJHL teams might be "lawyering up" over this USPHL and who will USA Hockey's insurance policy protect? Were there any USA Hockey officials at the Showcase trying to do damage control?
And the biggest question being asked; what clubs are actually going to pony up the $350,000 for a USPHL Franchise, why and what do you get for your $350,000 other than a receipt? What happens if the USHL jumps into this fight...oh yeah, there's plenty of rumors about the USHL planting their own version of a "PHL", which is a story for another day.
We are hearing that clubs like Buffalo, Comcast, Junior Flyers, Pittsburgh, Suffolk and Stamford, and then from within the EJHL, Bay State, Monarchs, Portland and Valley Warriors are the leading contenders to round out this new USPHL. So we might suggest that all of you clubs get in one room, form your own "PHL", then invite the Hitmen, Bruins, Islanders and South Shore to join your new league. Far better odds when its 10 against 4. Oh, the franchise price for your new league... $750,000. It's a fair price, after all money must grow on trees, besides, the kids will foot the bill....right?
Hopefully, everyone can see how ridiculous this is getting. This is nothing more than a money-grab. These folks didn't invent the game; they were given the responsibility to serve as custodians of amateur hockey in their respective areas; to grow the game; help young athletes reach their full potential, keep the sport fun and affordable.
We've all heard the famous quote by P.T. Barnum "there's a sucker born every minute" and when plunking down $350,000, as a price of admission into a tuition-based amateur hockey league, it begs some serious questions.
1) What do you get for the $350,000 and where is that money going? Is to line someone's pocket? Is to build a brand? Is it funding another member's club?
2) How do you amortize $350,000 and what's the return on investment? Will it make your rinks and clubs more money?
3) Does this draw better players to your club than you currently have? Or will you need to recruit from across the country? Are their other costs for this new venture that you didn't count on? Will your coach's pay reach stratospheric levels?
4) Will you have to sign some kind of exclusivity to join and does it apply to all members? If it doesn't go so well and you want to leave, is there some indemnity fee to pay? Can you be thrown out for poor performance? Who gets to vote on that?
5) Will you get to know what clubs will comprise the new league, prior to having to make your commitment final? This is important, what if two or three clubs "sneak" through that really doesn't have ANY track record or have a bad track record of performance, and their only ability is to write a $350,000 check...then what?
6) Could some faction of these clubs decide to form yet another league down the road? Will there be rules to prevent that from happening?
When the dust settles, the newly perceived "haves" and "have nots" are established, I am sure there will be another meeting to create the counter-attack to the USPHL and it will be leaner, smarter, faster, better, cleaner, bigger, stronger.... and Juniorhockey.com will be there to cover it.
You know what we think....what do you think?