I can think of at least one team that would make an ideal geographic fit in the west. (Arizona - CHL)
Two referee system for the playoffs (at least the last two rounds) is an excellent idea. How long have I been a proponent of this, Blake? I seem to remember you telling me it would never happen due to costs....LOL
Capping the number of franchises and trying to have an equal number of teams in each conference will help control travel costs. It should also help keep membership levels more consistent....avoiding having a situation like the CHL had when two years ago there was 18 teams, now down to only 10.
Yes, Bob, but it's only for the last two rounds of the playoffs, not for the regular season.
I understand that but, the last two rounds is (in my opinion) an ideal time to utilize this. Those rounds are when the officiating is usually called into question (last season was a good example).
I would have liked to see a handful of regular season games get the two referee system, similar to when the NHL gradually introduced it, but this is still something that will be interesting to observe.
Blake, what are your thoughts on capping the number of teams at 26? I cannot recall in recent memory a league setting such a limit.
I'm not buying this 26 team limit. As someone pointed out on the other blog, the ECHL once had a 23 team limit announced.
You want 3 more teams in the west? How about Rapid City They averaged 4700 fans per game and would be a natural rival for Colorado ( helping bith teams). How about Arizona? They only averaged 2507 fans per game but with Las Vegas and the Southern California teams would have a chance to build some rivalries. That's two of the three.
Placing a limit on league growth would automatically ignore Missouri (with an average of 5531 fans per game, Tulsa ( with an average of 4510 fans per game, and Allen (with an average of 4336 fans per game. Texas would complete a pretty nice division. Call it the "south central division".
Bob, what this tells me is that there is no chance for Muskegon, Flint, Port Huron and Dayton ever returning to AA hockey, even if some very deep-pocketed owner decides to build a new arena or whatever. What it means is that the ECHL is basically re-affirming that it's going to be very, very picky and will only take the cream of the so-called crop. It also doesn't mean that all 23 current teams will be among those 26 because they will not. No way some of these teams last more than five years. It'll all balance out.
The way the CHL is going — down to 10 teams before the puck drops — the stronger teams in that league might be thinking about their futures, maybe by the time the 2012-2013 season is at the halfway mark.
I realize the CHL required 10-year commitments, but what if there isn't a league to commit to? Not wishing to cast ill will on anybody, but I can see Arizona (major island issues) and Bloomington being the next teams to drop out.
If that happens, why would Missouri, Rapid City, Tulsa or Wichita want to stick around? What about Allen or Quad City for that matter? Those would be potentially good markets for the ECHL to pick off.
I for one am really surprised more teams didn't apply to join the ECHL with Fort Wayne and Evansville (or maybe they thought about it and backed off).
Regardless, as much as I enjoyed the CHL quality of hockey these past two years, I can't see the league with its current membership surviving 10 years. Five might even be a stretch.