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Daily Dish: 2013-2014 NAHL Divisional Alignment? - Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013
By: Stephen Heisler  |  Web site: JuniorHockey.com

The North American Hockey League's Board of Governors are meeting today in Troy, Michigan to go over the state of the league.

One of the discussions is bound to be divisional alignment. The following is more than an educated guess of what we are likely to see for 2013-2014.

South Division

After all the smoke, mirrors, and commotion concerning the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo area, progress in those two markets has come to a complete halt. What we see today is likely to be exactly what we will see next season.

Amarillo Bulls

Corpus Christi IceRays

Odessa Jackalopes

Texas Tornado

Topeka RoadRunners

Wichita Falls Wildcats

 

Central Division

The Minnesota Magicians join the party for 2013-2014 and there is a real possibility that the Fresno Monsters may be looking at relocation into this division. Sources within the league are suggesting that possibly is Dickinson. Combine that with the need to find a new home for the two Alaska teams and we come up with this.

Aberdeen Wings

Bismarck Bobcats

Brookings Blizzard

Minnesota Magicians

Minot Minotauros

Dickinson (Fresno Monsters)

 

Mid-West Division

When trying to figure out where to put the two Alaska teams, the first thing that needs to be considered is travel distances and cost. Flying in and out of Chicago is less expensive than trying to do the same thing with Dallas, Minneapolis, or Detroit. Actually, today's airfares suggest that Dallas is less expensive, but the bus miles quickly evaporate any savings from the flights. For all practical purposes, Chicago is by far the most logical hub for the Alaska teams. For this reason we are taking two teams each from the North and Central Divisions to make up this new Mid-West Division.

Austin Bruins

Coulee Region Chill

Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Janesville Jets

Kenai River Brown Bears

Springfield Blues

 

North Division

With the loss of Kalamazoo, Springfield, and Janesville, we are going to have to bring something else to the table. How about moving the Wenatchee Wild's NAHL membership to Detroit? Yea I know that major market NAHL teams have failed over and over again. Detroit could be different if done right from the start. Something else to consider, look at the geographical advantages a team in this market has in relation to the rest of the division, in reality, it is just perfect.

Detroit (Wenatchee Wild)

Jamestown Ironmen (look for a rebranding)

Johnstown Tomahawks

Michigan Warriors

Port Huron Fighting Falcons

Soo Eagles


Six teams in each of four divisions would create some degree of balance within the league. Now here is another concept I'd love to encourage but know is well outside the scoop of reality for a lot of these knuckleheads. 

A balanced schedule.

Nuts? Yea, I know, but let's talk about how it could work anyway.

Each team plays every other team within the division four times at home and four times away for a total of 40 games.

The Mid-West Exception:

The Mid-West teams will be paired with their closest geographical rival to play eight times at home and eight away (16 games). They will play the remaining division teams three times at home and three away (24 games), for a total of 40 games within the division.

Pairings:

Fairbanks and Kenai River

Coulee Region and Austin

Janesville and Springfield

Division opponents would travel to Alaska only once per regular season and play six games in eight days. Teams would fly to Alaska two at a time to reduce travel costs and make sure that all four teams are playing the same number of games in the same time period.

We are never going to get past the showcase, so add four more games there.

Now this is where the idea is going to be very cool.

Teams would play half of the remaining 18 teams on the road, the other half at home and rotate each year.

Division            20 home, 20 away

Division II         3 home, 3 away

Division III         3 home, 3 away

Division IV         3 home, 3 away

Showcase        4 Neutral Site 

The final game count would be 62. The league would have something they have never had before, a real schedule where every team see the others a minimum of once per year.

Hopefully this idea gives the BOG something to think about today.

I have not asked this question in a long time... what do YOU think?

JuniorHockey.com is the premier website dedicated to delivering the latest news and developing stories from junior hockey across North America, as well as providing online tools for junior hockey players and prospects. With over 330,000+ views in January, Juniorhockey.com has emerged as the internet's leading source of junior hockey news and information. 

Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Tune in to his Mexico based Classic Rock Station, GoPenasco Radio.








Discuss:

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 7:09am
justin gray says:
seems like a great idea, whats going on with the teams from the ej that the na invited or watever is there going to be ny cross between the leagues this upcoming year?

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 7:31am
Jeff Price says:
Stephen, a NA2 team will never work in the Metro Detroit area, at least in the present or any time in the near future. We have successful pro, OHL teams and throw in a small recession and it spells doom for this type of venture. JMO

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 8:22am
Stephen Heisler says:
Jeff,
Just any NA team and I might believe you. Bill Stewart is a master marketer that knows how to reach a community. If he goes in, money will come out. The budget for a Detroit area team could easily come in under $350,000. That is funny. Stewart can swing that much from local and national corporate sales alone.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 9:52am
Christian Poulsen says:
Stephen, I think you make a lot of sense with all this...some adjustment would probably need to take place (example: the RUNNERS might need to be put in with your exceptions for closest geographical opponent (as in: this season 4 games vs Corpus and 8 vs Springfield)...
...speaking of; what is the future status of the St Louis Bandit franchise?...
...maybe alignment and scheduleing starts off with something like this each season, then by the time the "adjustments" are made, the whole thing is shredded...
...but again, if your "outline" were followed as close as possible, I think the competition along with the travel (time and expense) makes sense...

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 10:07am
Stephen Heisler says:
Christian... that would only be for the midwest division...the others would be a balanced division schedule.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 11:29am
Jeff Price says:
Stephen, keep in mind we've already had some pretty successful business people who have owned junior tier II teams here in Detroit that could not make a go of it (Illitch, Karmanos). Not to say you don't know the economics in the Detroit area, but there are no extra dollars that for the most part anyone in this area will want to spend on tier II hockey programs. The best marketers in world cannot squeeze blood out of a turnip. Also, if Bill Stewart is a master marketer & business person, he would know their are plenty of other places in the US to place a tier II junior team that has a better chance of success than the Detroit area. Tier II in the greater Detroit area has run it's course and it has not been pretty! JMO

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 1:42pm
Stephen Heisler says:
Jeff,
The Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, Wolverines, Spartans, and everybody else seam to be doing fine when it comes to ticket sales.

How much effort was put into marketing any of those Tier II teams from the past? What about the games? Were they events or simply the games? It's got to be a show with family appeal. It has to be fun and at a good value.

It has to be marketed, and operated, at the same level as any minor-pro team and it works.

If he goes in and spends what has been spent in Johnstown and Wenatchee on local advertising, he should see a similar rate of return. Simply stated, it takes money to make money. Detroit is a talent-rich market that can again become a dominating program within the NAHL. But it has to be done right from day one and with the right people.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 1:50pm
Hockey SP says:
Mr Bill Stewart,
I know a good strength and conditioning coach for that new Detroit team, just saying!!

Cheers!
Richard Tremblay
Strength and Conditioning Coach
www.hockeysp.com

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 2:26pm
Mike Johnson says:
Christian Poulsen writes:

...speaking of; what is the future status of the St Louis Bandit franchise?...

I was thinking the same thing...The last I remember hearing was the ownership wanted to sell the NAHL charter, and bring a USHL team to Missouri....Don't know if they ever sold the Bandits franchise....

Maybe they should buy Youngstown and move them to St Charles, MO (Family Arena)..Something Stephen recommended last year...

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 3:08pm
Michael Gosnell says:
I would like to see more teams near JOhnstown, but this makes the most sense.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 6:35pm
Jeff Price says:
Maybe you’re right in regards to Mr. Stewart. What rink in metro Detroit do you think he could approach? How many in the Detroit area even have the mandatory requirements needed? You have my attention!

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 7:03pm
Stephen Heisler says:
Trenton would love to have a team back there...we all know that Yamada ran a very good thing into the ground there as well. Properly funded and marketed, I believe that the NAHL could work there.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 8:12pm
Bill Mueller says:
http://www.nbcnews.com/business/detroit-slashes-jobs-bankruptcy-rumors-build-1C7497027

This is from the uber-liberal NBC, so you know the problem is probably 50% more than the report says.

I don't know much about the metro area other than I was surprised how nice the Detroit subarbs appear to be, but I can't help but think that new developement will be non-existant. In this economy, with the circus, um uh ....current administration running the show, people with money are not gonna be sticking their necks out too far.

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 8:14pm
Randy Russon says:
Troy Sports Centre on Big Beaver Road, 14 miles north of downtown Detroit, is a nice facility but seating for only about 700.

What about tapping the Wayne State University market on Woodward Ave., not far from Comerica Park and Ford Field? Would that work?

Steve?

Hockey SP?

Jeff?

posted Feb. 19th, 2013 - 10:52pm
Alan Scheppelman says:
Another NAHL team in the Detroit Metro area is destined to fail. The real issue is the personality of the people in the area. The true hockey people can easily go see a NHL or OHL game rather than a lower level game. The truth is they are too busy going to games for their son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter. The economy in Michigan follows the auto industry which is still recovering. Even if interest in a NAHL team could be generated, the time and money simply isn't there.

As for venue, the Kennedy complex, in Trenton, that the Metal Jackets played at, leaves a lot to be desired.

posted Feb. 20th, 2013 - 6:29am
Hockey SP says:
Randy
Troy doesn't have a locker room available. I'm the Strength Coach for new ACHA D1 Rochester College Hockey Team. We looked into Troy and they won't budge on a room. Troy worked great when the Metal Jackets played the Czech national team a few years ago.
I've never been to WSU but I do believe there's a market for a NA team if its done right.

Alan
is your son Aaron? If it is, he is an absolutely great kid to work with. He was really mature when I had him as a rookie. Just an all around respectful kid that works his ass off.
I reach out to him about playing for RC. He would probably be my off-ice captain from the start.

Rich Tremblay

posted Feb. 20th, 2013 - 9:12pm
Paul Covach says:
Stephen
I think an NA team in Trenton would work out very well. I think you could establish an Eastern Division. Youngstown maybe looking for a team to put in that facility. Jamestown NY, Johnstown Pa., Already have teams. I think an NA team in Reading Pa would work. The ECHL Royals are a good draw and I think people would definetly support an NA team. I also think there was a group that was interested in Springfield sale last year that was from Eastern Pa. You could then have a nice East Division.
Jamestown NY
Youngstown OH
Johnstown Pa
Reading Pa
Trenton NJ
The NA then starts to have a good footprint in the East.

posted Feb. 21st, 2013 - 12:46pm
Alan Scheppelman says:
Yes, Aaron is my son and I appreciate your comments about him. I know RC has talked to him but they don't have the program that he wants to go to school for. Thanks.

posted Feb. 21st, 2013 - 4:19pm
Hockey SP says:
Alan
I completely understand and I wish the best of luck to Aaron wherever he plays.

posted Feb. 25th, 2013 - 1:18pm
Frank DiCristofaro says:
Randy,

I am the Head Coach for Wayne State University's ACHA team. This season was our first season and we had anywhere between 100-200 fans per game playing at City Sports Center in Detroit. It's not the most ideal place to play and we still drew "decently" for a first year team.

I think that with the right marketing and venue (possibly having a shuttle run from a local establishment) back and forth, a team could draw very well. You would be surprised at how many students live on campus downtown and are looking for something affordable to do on the weekends.

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