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DAILY DISH: NPHL Done? Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 25 Apr 2016  
By: Stephen Heisler,

It looks like the Northern Pacific Hockey League might have played the final game.

Ironically enough, the last teams still playing in that game (in Cascade Cup Finals) have decided to part ways with the NPHL. The Wenatchee Wolves will concentrate on the midget level of play while the Bellingham Blazers are rumored to be following the Southern Oregon Spartans and Seattle Totems over to the Amateur Athletic Union sanctioned Western States Hockey League.

Bellingham hopes to take advantage of AAU’s rostering guidelines that considers all North Americans as domestic players. This gives the Blazers the opportunity to roster players from nearby British Columbia with a lot more ease.

The league champion team from Wenatchee dominated NPHL competition while remaining a low-to-middle of the pack team at the 18u level of the North American Prospects Hockey League, something that shed a lot of light on the league’s level of play.

A proposed merger with the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League has been voted down by the Colorado based league, according to a very reliable source within the RMJHL, leaving the NPHL on the outside looking in.

The only option remaining for the last four teams is the North American 3 Hockey League or United States Premier Hockey League.

The NA3HL would love the chance to put the brand onto the west coast but questions remain about the viability of that move considering that some of the remaining NPHL operators have less than desirable track records when it comes to meeting expectations.

The USPHL might be the trick. But even then, the required participation in USPHL events may prove to be cost prohibitive as well.

At least one of the remaining four teams has already contacted the WSHL and it’s expected that one other one will be doing the same thing this week. It’s been indicated that the WSHL would be very interested in West Sound.

Considering all the drama that has unfolded as a result of Eugene Generals’ General Manager Flint Doungchak personal war with the WSHL, it’s very clear that the Generals won’t be invited to the WSHL party as long as Dounchak remains part of the equation.

Considering the possibility that the now four-team league could lose one or two additional teams to the WSHL, the situation with Dounchak’s strained relationship with the AAU league could put Generals’ team owner Ken Evans into a difficult position.  Does he stick with the only GM the team has ever known and hope for a miracle? Or simply part ways with the employee and open the door to a new league.

It’s my opinion that Evans and the Generals have few options. The WSHL would make a lot of sense for West Sound as well. Maybe a West Sound “merger” with the Seattle Ravens would be a great idea to solidify that operation.

NPHL Commissioner Gary Swain is in the toughest position of all, but he can’t at all be surprised. Allowing a team to skate through an entire season with half a roster is ridicules and likely cost Swain yet another job.

Let the bodies hit the floor…silly season is in full effect.

Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Now semi-retired and working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a consultant, he spends most of his time in Florida with his family.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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