One of the best lessons Ken Ullyot ever taught me is that you have to have someone to play, and teams in a league are not your competitors, they are your partners. It's a business every bit as much as a competition because without one you don't have the other.
You're probably like, where the heck is he going here... No, I didn't have the beer. I've noticed a lot of talk of late about the future of the UHL and where they should be, etc., etc. Always fun discussions to wonder what if.
In a perfect world, it would make more sense for Peoria, Indy, Cincy, Dayton and Toledo to be in the UHL, but it can't happen with the current teams in those cities because the ECHL is unionized.
Hit Somebody! you've got to remember that the UHL kind of inherited the East teams. When they had New Haven, Adirondack, Binghamton, Utica, they were all old AHL teams just like the old IHL teams so it kind of made sense to go in that direction. The UHL needed those teams to gain credibility and to stabilize each year. When Utica came in in 1993, there were only eight teams and four of those were in Canada. The UHL needed the hockey tradition, easy sell, common rivalries. Now a couple of those have gotten picked off so the league is scrambling to find new markets out East to stabilize things. They can't abandon the teams they have out there, even if it might make geographic sense in some ways, so they are always scrambling to find new markets. It's really the only option they have.
I don't know if you could make a trade, franchise for franchise per se, but I'm guessing there's be all kind of lawsuits and anti-trust problems and it would probably take a year or two. There's no way any of these franchises could afford to go dark for year and then come back. It just wouldn't happen.
The problem is, there just aren't that many hockey markets out there or around here that haven't already been picked off. I know there are other UHL expansion franchises coming, and I hope they make it, but the major problem is that this is just a very unstable business. What the Frankes have done over the last 16 years is pretty amazing in that there are very, very few minor league teams around that still have the same ownership group since that time. Milwaukee? Nope. Indy? Nope, Toledo? Nope. Kzoo, no, even though the Parfets have always had a hand in (thank goodness), Muskegon? Nope, though Tony Lisman was always around. QC? Nope. Flint? Not 16 years. It simply doesn't happen because the business is so unstable that they either lose too much or burn out. Other than Hershey and maybe one or two AHL teams, I'm not sure there is anybody else out there that has been around with the same owner for 16 years. Maybe five at the very, very most, but I doubt it.
Unless your team is just a hobby (which will never happen in FW), this is not a good business to get into, and even then you could lose millions in a hurry. The IHL proved that. Look at all the AHL cities that have dropped out or changed over the past five years. Same thing with the ECHL in the South. It's just a tough, tough business. Part of that is because your product quality could change dramatically from week to week, month to month and year to year. It's not something that you can really control thanks to injuries, player movement, etc. Look at how the Komets have only two players left from the 2003 title team. You might there are legitimate reasons, but it's that way in every minor league hockey city now. That's just the way it is.
And it's always been a tough, tough business. Ken Ullyot tells stories of going to the summer meetings and having only three teams, so the owners of those teams would go on bandwagon tours to find potential owners. They'd literally drive up to the rink and ask someone there who the richest people in town were. They got about 1 out of 8 usually, and then they'd have to do it again the next summer. And during the fall, the old owners would help supply players to the new owners to get them started, and by the end of the season they were often paying their payroll.
It's has always been like this folks, and it probably always will be just because it's the nature of the business. It will never be totally stable. Look at it this way, how many of you would get together a bunch of friends, pool your money and buy a team, maybe a minor league team in any sport? None of you would because A) the banks wouldn't back you; B) look at all the franchises in trouble and C) your spouse would leave and take all the money with them first. It wouldn't make financial sense, no matter how much fun you think it would be.
Part of this is nostalgia for the way it used to be, and I totally understand that, but just like in life you have to move forward, you can't go back. Same thing with hockey leagues.
OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. I am REALLY looking forward to Friday's game. I haven't looked forward to a game like this maybe this entire season.