Let the games begin
I'm not a big cards guy so when poker invades the space that I generally reserve for SportsCenter, I consider the moment as a sign that I either need to sleep or get out of the house. On occasion, something about the characters around the table will catch my eye.
Maybe it's the kid with the ghetto get-up trying to outsmart a 70 year-old grandpa out of his pile of plastic chips, or maybe the Asian dude with the dark glasses, or even once in a while, just the smoking hot lady that's dealing the cards. Like the other 245 channels, this show is pulling all the stops to capture my attention.
It's kind of like junior hockey in the months of April and May, everybody has a hand full of aces in their head in April and by the time June 1st comes around, a lot of guys realize that the deck has been stacked against them.
Between the battle for New England, the fewer differences between AAU and USA Hockey, the United States (not-so) Premier Hockey League, and the mess in Colorado, teams and leagues are all over the map.
The Rocky Mountain Hockey League's Steamboat Wranglers are moving to AAU's Western States Hockey League and I am being told that there will be another to follow. That's going to happen when the rest of the teams decide to put the league out of it's misery.
The USPHL has managed to influence (or con?) a number of established NA3HL clubs to their gang. One of the teams, the Metro Jets, took the NA3HL's Fraser Cup after contracting a record number of players last season (I heard 35 full payers!) and took offense to that practice being looked down upon by the rest of the league. Under the lack of oversite provided by the USPHL, I expect that number to jump to 50 or more for next season. The Metro Jets also get to play in their own division (with the same teams they regularly beat-up) with crossover play limited to showcases and playoffs.
The discussion of the former Central Hockey League president Rick Kozuback's new Tier I junior league (USACHL) has been brought back to the table. The flow of information had been reduced in the last month but apparently the work behind the scenes has not. I've been told that they have four teams ready to begin operations and as many as four more waiting in the wings. All of these teams would fit very nicely within the NAHL-South's footprint. I'm sure that the last thing the NAHL wants is a Tier I operation camped out in their back yard. After a few reports from Laredo and Hidalgo, Texas, and an extended conversation with operator Bill Davidson, I've been shutout of any additional conversations. Oh well, we are on the edge of May 1st, and the fact that there is minimal news regarding the league speaks volumes for the viability of it's success.
The NAHL has a new team going into Maryland and another team (Philadelphia) not really sure where they are going to play next season. The Rebels have been rumored to have shown interest in facilities in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, and even one report about the possibility of going back to Aston. I'm certain that the dozens of fans in that community will welcome them back with open arms.
With so many different faces of players at junior hockey's poker table, we could be in for a very interesting off-season of uncertainty.
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.