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Reforming the AHL (Long)

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Old
06-08-2005, 07:22 PM
  #1
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Reforming the AHL (Long)

Has serving the NHL as a development league forced the AHL to sacrifice its own success? Is it time for the AHL to strike out on its own?

While the NHL could easily take steps to beat down an American Hockey League that drifted away from being a dumping ground for the NHL's unwanted and untrained, this is not what I suggest.

Rather, the AHL could take steps that would make it a competitive league on its own, allowing it to net better attendance while still developing young players.

1. Become Independant

While NHL teams could still own AHL teams, the AHL would go forth as a pro league on its own, and not soley as the feeder system for the NHL. This means teams would have their own goals and such if privately owned.

2. Institute a draft

The USHL, NCAA, CHL, CIS and European major junior leagues are not bled dry after the NHL Entry Draft; many fine players are passed over who later find success in the NHL. There are many great young players that have had success in this regard; Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brian Rafalski are just two of many examples. Others, such as Jarret Stoll and Tim Brent, reenter the draft due to contract disputes.

The AHL could begin their quest for more self-suffiency and popularity by drafting such players. By having young players their teams are responsible for and may have in the long run, fans will be more eager to sit tight and watch one team.

3. Institute an Interleague Buy/Sell System

Much like the WCHL and PCHL of old, the NHL could freely sell and buy the contracts of the best players in these leagues and vice versa. It all came down to paying a fair amount. While some will say this counters the above- the NHL can still cannabalize the AHL for its best and brightest stars- if an AHL team is not willing to part with a player, they don't have to. In the reverse, if an NHL prospect was floundering, the AHL could offer to buy that player's contract and he'd become that AHL team's property. This ties in with the idea below.

4. Modify Affiliate System

The AHL would not have any use- and would in fact be at the mercy of the NHL- if they did not serve the function of assisting in development of players. This can be kept intact while the AHL modernizes, however. Instead of spending millions stocking an AHL team with minor league vets and borderline prospects just to have the luxury of controlling the development of your own prospects, NHL owners could save money by signing contracts with AHL teams that dictate the maximum and minimum amount of farm hands that must be present on their rosters. If an AHL team refuses, well, let them not have any potential NHL stars on their roster and let them see how they do as a business.

Now, you may be asking, why would the NHL put up with this? Consider this:

1. As stated above, no NHL team has so many blue chip prospects to justify owning an AHL club. Even if one did, many AHL franchises would kill to have such a stockpile of talent on their roster, and would probaby sign an affiliate deal that allows for that many prospects. It's a money-saving move, and a resource-saving move.

2. The NHL would save money not developing their own players. Expanding on the interleague contract system suggested above, NHL teams could save tons leaving the development of 3rd/4th line grinders and role players to AHL teams that draft them in their draft. This would allow NHL teams to spend more time and resources on their blue chip prospects, and would only have to pay a one-time fee (say $500,000) to grab a bottom-six forward that is ready for the NHL.

3. AHL teams that try to be competitive are a better environment than a hodgepodge of vets and prospects that only play together 1-2 years. Young players will be brought in knowing they'll be playing for a cohesive squad, and will learn to fit a role on that squad. In addition, they'll still recieve top quality instruction, and can still earn top-six ice time.

Okay, so if the AHL can do this, what incentive do they have to remain in a position of affiliation when they can just fly solo?

1. The NHL will always beat them in terms of talent and exposure. It's simple fact. Not many would go to watch an AHL marketed to be anywhere was good as the NHL. It just would not happen.

2. By remaining on friendly terms with the NHL, the AHL saves money from a potential marketing war that they'd lose badly while still filling their buildings. This plan allows AHL teams to build themselves into perennial champions while still fostering the development of young stars. By doing so, fans would constantly visit. Not enough that they'd ever take away from the NHL's thunder, but enough that they'd be successfull in terms of the revenue generation and attendance average of the other AHL teams.

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Old
06-08-2005, 09:49 PM
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McDonald19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bugg

1. Become Independant

While NHL teams could still own AHL teams, the AHL would go forth as a pro league on its own, and not soley as the feeder system for the NHL. This means teams would have their own goals and such if privately owned.
Do we really want another IHL?

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Old
06-08-2005, 10:26 PM
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Terrific post, Mr Bugg. I imagine the NHL would want control over callups mid-season etc, which would compromise the league somewhat. There was a very famous case decades ago where the WHL (the old pro league) was moving toward becoming the Western Major League and one team (don't remember who) actually refused to accept a player sent down (it was Pat Stapleton, that much I do remember).

Anyway, very interesting idea and as a fan I'd love it.

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06-09-2005, 12:44 AM
  #4
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Quote:
Do we really want another IHL?
One of the many reasons the IHL failed was because the AHL was already in place. There was no room for a league like this.

Quote:
Terrific post, Mr Bugg. I imagine the NHL would want control over callups mid-season etc, which would compromise the league somewhat. There was a very famous case decades ago where the WHL (the old pro league) was moving toward becoming the Western Major League and one team (don't remember who) actually refused to accept a player sent down (it was Pat Stapleton, that much I do remember).

Anyway, very interesting idea and as a fan I'd love it.
Thank you for reading. I always look forward to your input, and hoped my Barlow avatar would draw your attention

That is a very, very good point. I never thought of the legalities of call-ups and the like. Though if we were to stick with two-way contracts (for NHL prospects/property only) plus an affiliate deal that guaranteed, say, a minimum of 5 NHL-property players and max of 8 on the active AHL roster at one time, the AHL would have to honor both call-ups and demotions (so long as there was room under the max/min stipulation, of course).

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06-09-2005, 04:18 AM
  #5
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I don't think the AHL needs to go that far. I think they should be willing to waive the affiliation requirements when NHL clubs have, for their own reasons, locked an AHL franchise out by refusing to talk with them. Such as what has happened with Cincinnati, where they wanted to continue operating but, for the time being, were frozen out by teams refusing to affiliate with them (even though multiple AHL teams have ceased operations).

The situation right now is one where the NHL not only controls the vast majority of the players in the league, but they also control which franchises will actually stay in operation. If the NHL GMs decided they did not like a particular team, they could remove them from AHL action simply by refusing to affiliate with them.

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06-11-2005, 10:21 PM
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Though it would be a great idea there are many problems that are out of the AHL's hands. The NHL would have to be 100% in favour of this, the A could not go it alone. Otherwise the ECHL would be too attractive an option for the NHL to pass up. Why send a prospect you may need down to the AHL and not have full control of them, when you can send them to the ECHL?

Another aspect is marketing. If the AHL did not keep its level of top prospects selling the game would be tough. It not easy to sell, "come see the best of the rest", rather then "come see the best of the future."

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06-12-2005, 12:09 AM
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The NHL would just move on the ECHL and the AHL would pretty much have to fold. The NHL has a strangle hold on the hockey market and the AHL, frankly, has no business doing soemthing like that.

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06-12-2005, 01:06 AM
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Nice post...like the ingenuity.

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06-12-2005, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bugg
One of the many reasons the IHL failed was because the AHL was already in place. There was no room for a league like this.



Thank you for reading. I always look forward to your input, and hoped my Barlow avatar would draw your attention

That is a very, very good point. I never thought of the legalities of call-ups and the like. Though if we were to stick with two-way contracts (for NHL prospects/property only) plus an affiliate deal that guaranteed, say, a minimum of 5 NHL-property players and max of 8 on the active AHL roster at one time, the AHL would have to honor both call-ups and demotions (so long as there was room under the max/min stipulation, of course).

One of the reasons why the IHL folded was because all of the teams were independent and ran themselves. Another is they just didn't have the support financially or the fanbase. The only 6 teams that did get support are in the AHL now. Funny how the IHL teams have been the more successful of late too.

This wouldn't work. The NHL won't allow it, and teams would still have to run out their contracts with their NHL clubs regardless.

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Old
06-12-2005, 03:16 PM
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Great points, but one thing about the prospects in the AHL is that they become the best players in the league.

Look at the final this year. You had two of the biggest goaltending prospects in the world in Niitymaki and Lehtonen. Both teams were led by key individuals who were also of youth and members of NHL clubs. Richards, Coburn, Bouwmeester, Carter come to mind.

As far as the AHL goes, the best known players in the league end up being those prospects. Miller broke records, Spezza dominated.

The AHL needs these types of prospects more than you'd give credit for, because not only do they serve as the namesake of the teams, but they also contribute positively to their teams as well. This year was a rare year for us to watch the AHL at it's potential best: every prospect staying at their AHL affiliate and literally playing some of the best hockey in the world.

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Old
06-12-2005, 04:29 PM
  #11
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There are too many Independent Pro Leagues in North America, and all but one or two are struggling.

But if this were to go ahead and happen, why not just completely scrap a system, and bring in relegation, ala. Euro Soccer. It will never happen, but it would be interesting as hell if it did.

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06-12-2005, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by futurcorerock
Great points, but one thing about the prospects in the AHL is that they become the best players in the league.

Look at the final this year. You had two of the biggest goaltending prospects in the world in Niitymaki and Lehtonen. Both teams were led by key individuals who were also of youth and members of NHL clubs. Richards, Coburn, Bouwmeester, Carter come to mind.

As far as the AHL goes, the best known players in the league end up being those prospects. Miller broke records, Spezza dominated.

The AHL needs these types of prospects more than you'd give credit for, because not only do they serve as the namesake of the teams, but they also contribute positively to their teams as well. This year was a rare year for us to watch the AHL at it's potential best: every prospect staying at their AHL affiliate and literally playing some of the best hockey in the world.
For this season, yeah the prospects were the best. But in a normal season with the NHL playing usually the AHL vets are the best and most consistent players. Look at the history of Calder Cup winners and they are almost always lead by veterans. Usually leading scorers and such are veteran as well. This season was an exception.

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Old
06-20-2005, 10:32 AM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooseHunter
One of the reasons why the IHL folded was because all of the teams were independent and ran themselves. Another is they just didn't have the support financially or the fanbase. The only 6 teams that did get support are in the AHL now. Funny how the IHL teams have been the more successful of late too.
The IHL seemed to have several new teams every season during the early 1990s, or at least the team moved to another market and either folded after a season or two, folded when the league did, or joined the AHL. Remember such short lived teams like the San Francisco Spiders, Denver Grizzlies [Moved to SLC after one season in DEN], Quebec Rafales [Lasted two seasons after moving from Atlanta due to their arena getting torn down], Minnesota Moose [two seasons in the Twin Cities before moving to Manitoba], San Antonio Dragons [lasted two seasons after the Peoria Rivermen moved], and the LA Ice Dogs [Still was an LA-area team, albeit in Long Beach, as the Long Beach Ice Dogs, Long Beach Jets would have been a better name.] In some of the cases of the teams listed above, the NHL played a role in those teams moving (also the case with the Phoenix Roadrunners) as either an NHL team moved to the city (As was the case in Phoenix and Denver) or a new arena was being built on the site for a future NHL team (Atlanta).

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