ECHL teams are braced for a sequence of major changes due to the consequences of COVID-19. Professional teams from Kansas City, Allen, Wichita and Tulsa are in a prime position to join a number of former rivals from the North American Hockey League.
Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lone Star, Odessa, and Shreveport were all former rivals from the Western Pro or Central Hockey League.
The successes of the NAHL's South Division has been eyed by a number of minor professional clubs with a bit of envy. The rumored $750,000 reduction in overall expenses is very attractive for many operators.
Lamar Hunt Jr. owns both the Kansas City Mavericks and Scouts, so putting those two operations together is easy enough.
Tulsa was within minutes of jumping the the NAHL a number of years ago before a last minute sale kept the Oilers in professional hockey. Making the move now may be the only fiscally responsible way to keep a team on the ice.
Wichita has been the driving force behind sticking to the pro game in the region. Their biggest issue, today, is the high likelihood that Democratic Governor Laura Kelly will be sticking to party lines and following the lead of other left-leaning states. So they may have to go dark for the season.
The Allen Americans are located just minutes away from the NAHL offices in Frisco. There have been rumors that the Dallas Stars wanted to move their American Hockey League team from Cedar Park (Austin suburb) to the Texas Metroplex. If that were to mean Allen, there's a lot of confidence the NAHL would quickly move to secure Cedar Park.
What about the remaining ECHL teams from the Mountain Division?
Idaho and Utah are a bit out of area for the NAHL but could be join the Alaska teams and rebuild the league's footprint in the west.
Rapid City is still very successful. The NAHL would provide nice rivalries with Bismarck, Aberdeen, and Minot.
If there are going to be a number of new teams having to build rosters this late in the off-season, this is likely the perfect time to do it, especially if the left side of the political spectrum is really going to put their foot down on sports in an effort to gain a political advantage. There will be a lot of players forced to seek alternative opportunities.