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Old
01-19-2012, 06:55 AM
  #51
Solution
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Originally Posted by Big McLargehuge View Post
To be completely honest...I'm surprised it took this long for this to happen.

It's a real shame, but it was inevitable. The ECHL has shifted focus since the Nailers came to Wheeling and it's just too small a city with too lousy of an arena to really be sustainable. If the Penguins wanted to keep the team there they could do so easily, but the Pens haven't used the Nailers much at all the past few years and there really isn't much positives in keeping the team there at a loss. The Penguins will probably sign on to share a team next year and send maybe one player there.
With only 50 players under NHL contract, there are not a whole lot of players left over to send to the ECHL. Goalies seemd to be the players who ended up going there the most. So depending on how things go in Pittsburgh with the draft, we may have a few to add to an ECHL team. I was looking at ECHL teams and affiliations. One interesting possibility came to mind. Elmira. They are about 2 hours away from Wilkes-Barre, and the coach is Pat Bingham. He was the coach in Wheeling when Pittsburgh first signed up with the Nailers. Things seemed to work well with the teams at the time. The organization would know how he works.

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01-19-2012, 07:00 AM
  #52
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The War Memorial in Johnstown was my favorite arena to play in as a kid. It became even more so after my parents let me watch Slapshot.

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01-19-2012, 07:50 AM
  #53
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as a longtime and soon-to-be former Johnstown resident, I hate to say it but I'm not sure if they could handle a full-time ECHL team. I know a lot of people still hold some sort of agenda about Wheeling not being "their" team, and the older fans still view Wheeling as some sort of rival despite the Chiefs not playing a game in the War Memorial since 2010. I'm not saying there isn't interest in the area. Once Neil Smith announced the Chiefs were moving, attendance went up and they even sold out a few games during the final month of the 2009-10 season. But it should take more than a relocation announcement to get people to show up to a game.

A lot of things have changed since the Chiefs were regularly selling out games in the early to mid 90s with regularity: the economy, the population of the area (down 20% since the Chiefs inaugural AAHL season), and one that many people over look, a lot of people don't flock to minor league events like they would have 15-20 years ago.

Could another league work in Johnstown? Absolutely. The NPHL, if it ever gets operating, would be the equivalent of what the ECHL was in the late 80s.
If they want it to work: here's what I think needs to happen:
*Tickets need to be affordable. One of the main complaints I've heard about games are how much tickets have gone up since the early days. With the NPHL being a lower level of hockey, lower than the level of play in the ECHL and since the Johnstown team wouldn't exactly be the Boston Bruins, you could probably get away with a $10 ticket instead of a $15.50 ticket. Give them a lower price on the ticket, get them in the gate and make it up in concessions....although i'm sure there's something in the arena agreement where the arena gets the majority of food and drink sales.
*Advertising. Promote the **** team!! This is something that really hasn't happened since the mid 2000s, possibly earlier. A billboard on back of the arena is essentially worthless when the front of the arena is already advertising the game dates. Place billboards in high traffic areas and outlying areas of town. I realize stuff like billboards, signs in local businesses cost money, but you have to spend money to make money. At my last job, they gave away 5 sets of tickets to every Chiefs home game. Most of the people didn't realize the Chiefs were still in town. So if they didn't know the Chiefs were still in town, you could imagine the surprise last year when I told the same people that Wheeling was playing in the War Memorial. "But I thought the Chiefs left, how is Wheeling playing at the War Memorial?"
*Veterans. The one thing I notice when people bring up the Chiefs is there's always a long time veteran that they remember, like the Rick Boyds and Rob Hrytsaks of the early 90s or even the Jeff Sullivans and Dmitri Tarabrins of the later teams. I know the ECHL has veteran status for players over 200 games and each team is only allowed to retain a number of veterans (think it was 6 and maybe now it's 4), but create something in the new league for players who plan on staying in one town towards the end of their career. I realize that the minors are a business, but for each fan that knows that there are reasons for players switching teams for business/contractual reasons, there are 20 more fans who are upset because player x isn't here anymore. Keep some of the fans happy, and those fans will continue to come through the gate.

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Old
01-19-2012, 08:03 AM
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjs View Post
as a longtime and soon-to-be former Johnstown resident, I hate to say it but I'm not sure if they could handle a full-time ECHL team. I know a lot of people still hold some sort of agenda about Wheeling not being "their" team, and the older fans still view Wheeling as some sort of rival despite the Chiefs not playing a game in the War Memorial since 2010. I'm not saying there isn't interest in the area. Once Neil Smith announced the Chiefs were moving, attendance went up and they even sold out a few games during the final month of the 2009-10 season. But it should take more than a relocation announcement to get people to show up to a game.

A lot of things have changed since the Chiefs were regularly selling out games in the early to mid 90s with regularity: the economy, the population of the area (down 20% since the Chiefs inaugural AAHL season), and one that many people over look, a lot of people don't flock to minor league events like they would have 15-20 years ago.

Could another league work in Johnstown? Absolutely. The NPHL, if it ever gets operating, would be the equivalent of what the ECHL was in the late 80s.
If they want it to work: here's what I think needs to happen:
*Tickets need to be affordable. One of the main complaints I've heard about games are how much tickets have gone up since the early days. With the NPHL being a lower level of hockey, lower than the level of play in the ECHL and since the Johnstown team wouldn't exactly be the Boston Bruins, you could probably get away with a $10 ticket instead of a $15.50 ticket. Give them a lower price on the ticket, get them in the gate and make it up in concessions....although i'm sure there's something in the arena agreement where the arena gets the majority of food and drink sales.
*Advertising. Promote the **** team!! This is something that really hasn't happened since the mid 2000s, possibly earlier. A billboard on back of the arena is essentially worthless when the front of the arena is already advertising the game dates. Place billboards in high traffic areas and outlying areas of town. I realize stuff like billboards, signs in local businesses cost money, but you have to spend money to make money. At my last job, they gave away 5 sets of tickets to every Chiefs home game. Most of the people didn't realize the Chiefs were still in town. So if they didn't know the Chiefs were still in town, you could imagine the surprise last year when I told the same people that Wheeling was playing in the War Memorial. "But I thought the Chiefs left, how is Wheeling playing at the War Memorial?"
*Veterans. The one thing I notice when people bring up the Chiefs is there's always a long time veteran that they remember, like the Rick Boyds and Rob Hrytsaks of the early 90s or even the Jeff Sullivans and Dmitri Tarabrins of the later teams. I know the ECHL has veteran status for players over 200 games and each team is only allowed to retain a number of veterans (think it was 6 and maybe now it's 4), but create something in the new league for players who plan on staying in one town towards the end of their career. I realize that the minors are a business, but for each fan that knows that there are reasons for players switching teams for business/contractual reasons, there are 20 more fans who are upset because player x isn't here anymore. Keep some of the fans happy, and those fans will continue to come through the gate.
The veteran theme is one that I have heard referenced several times in discussions that I have had with ECHL fans. Most bemoan the lack of veterans with teams. I followed the Nailers this season at the start and noticed only about 4 names from last season. Only two had been there longer than one season. That definitely needs to change. I had proposed a franchise exemption for one veteran. This player would be a guy who has been with the team for five seasons or so. He could then become a marketing focus as well as helping with player recruiting. You could have your six veterans with an exemption. That is seven players. Plus if the AHL teams assign five guys each that is 10 which takes the roster up to 17. Realisticly, the AHL teams will assign 3 each so you are looking at 6 plus 6. that is twelve. Leaving the franchise with 8 players who would be under 200 games. Veterans would also lead to rivalries which would drive attendance and interest up.

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01-19-2012, 08:24 AM
  #55
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My first hockey game was a Wheeling Nailers game. It must have been in 2000 or early 2001, since my first NHL game was November 2001 in Nashville to see the Penguins play the Preds. Back on topic, they had an "all-celebrity game" before their contest. I stood outside the arena for three hours collecting autographs. For the most part, they are in my autograph book. However, one particular autograph I received was from Joe Mullen. He signed his hockey card for me. It was pretty dope. I sat right behind the net. Nice seats. Really exciting stuff.

I'll take any opportunity I can get to go to a minor league hockey game. If you haven't, I encourage you to. It's fun stuff.

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01-19-2012, 08:48 AM
  #56
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A glimmer of hope...

Quote:
Shawn_Rine
I have confirmed there is NO TRUTH to the Savannah, Ga., rumors. A local buyer is STILL being sought. #SaveTheNailers

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01-19-2012, 09:49 AM
  #57
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What sort of sucks about the Nailers is that in the next few years, I think there will be a big influx of players coming into the Pens system. Wheeling was bound to get some decent runoff there.

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01-19-2012, 10:22 AM
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JTG View Post
What sort of sucks about the Nailers is that in the next few years, I think there will be a big influx of players coming into the Pens system. Wheeling was bound to get some decent runoff there.
Well, I am not certain about that JTG. With each team only having 50 NHL contracts taht they can hand out, you have to figure that the NHL team will have about 23 players up with them. (Injury of some sort). So that leaves 27. The AHL franchise will be a majority of NHL contracts (2-way). Let's say 20. That leaves 7. One goalie in the ECHL. Six left. The Penguins seem to sign their early non-NCAA draft picks to contracts. Four left, using the first 2 picks as an assumption. So you would like to hold one or two as spares which are open. That leaves 2. In the end the ECHL team gets a goalie and 2 other players. Now there are guys signed to AHL contracts who could get sent down which would help. Wheeling has actually been fairly decent the last couple of years record wise, plus their good run in the playoffs. They have been getting talent. Most of that is due to Drulia who left for Milwaukee earlier in the year which raised some red flags in certain areas.

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01-19-2012, 10:25 AM
  #59
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I guess that makes sense.

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01-19-2012, 10:30 AM
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solution View Post
The veteran theme is one that I have heard referenced several times in discussions that I have had with ECHL fans. Most bemoan the lack of veterans with teams. I followed the Nailers this season at the start and noticed only about 4 names from last season. Only two had been there longer than one season. That definitely needs to change. I had proposed a franchise exemption for one veteran. This player would be a guy who has been with the team for five seasons or so. He could then become a marketing focus as well as helping with player recruiting. You could have your six veterans with an exemption. That is seven players. Plus if the AHL teams assign five guys each that is 10 which takes the roster up to 17. Realisticly, the AHL teams will assign 3 each so you are looking at 6 plus 6. that is twelve. Leaving the franchise with 8 players who would be under 200 games. Veterans would also lead to rivalries which would drive attendance and interest up.

That's exactly what I was getting at, and you worded it much better than I could.

Fans like a familiar face, and I think part of the reason you see declining numbers is because of the ECHL (for the most part) doesn't give the chance to see a player for more than a season. In Johnstown's history, who I believe holds the record as the longest tenured ECHL team in one city, they only had 36 players who had played more than 3 or more seasons for the team. Considering the team had 619 players pass through their locker room using both AAHL and ECHL numbers, that says a lot about not being able to keep a veteran around for whatever reasons.

I'm sure that number is somewhat skewed due to emergency signings and two-game wonders. That figure of "veterans" might even be high since it qualifies a game played as a season. I know several players have come back as free agents and signed on to play for a weekend before going back into retirement.

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01-19-2012, 10:36 AM
  #61
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Press conference at the Civic Center today at 4.

Reports of the team being sold already to go to Savannah, GA are false.

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01-19-2012, 12:36 PM
  #62
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Originally Posted by iamjs View Post
That's exactly what I was getting at, and you worded it much better than I could.
Fans like a familiar face, and I think part of the reason you see declining numbers is because of the ECHL (for the most part) doesn't give the chance to see a player for more than a season. In Johnstown's history, who I believe holds the record as the longest tenured ECHL team in one city, they only had 36 players who had played more than 3 or more seasons for the team. Considering the team had 619 players pass through their locker room using both AAHL and ECHL numbers, that says a lot about not being able to keep a veteran around for whatever reasons.

I'm sure that number is somewhat skewed due to emergency signings and two-game wonders. That figure of "veterans" might even be high since it qualifies a game played as a season. I know several players have come back as free agents and signed on to play for a weekend before going back into retirement.
Thank you. I have been working on that proposal for a couple of seasons now. It has taken me a long time to try and get it worded well. I can understand that some players leave because they advance themselves either by playing well or going to Europe for more money. But there are always going to be guys who make a life for themselves in an area and want to stay there. What would it hurt to try and add a veteran guy who can represent the team to the community? It would help with recruiting as well as ticket sales.

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01-19-2012, 12:36 PM
  #63
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Press conference at the Civic Center today at 4.

Reports of the team being sold already to go to Savannah, GA are false.
Get those cookies ready.

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