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2010 Mid Winter ECHL BOG meeting

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02-17-2010, 05:53 PM
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LadyStanley
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2010 Mid Winter ECHL BOG meeting

Press release:
Quote:
The Mid-Season ECHL Board of Governors Meeting was officially concluded and adjourned on Feb. 17.

The following items were approved by the Board of Governors:

Johnstown's Move to Greenville Approved

The Board unanimously approved the transfer of home territory for the Johnstown membership to Greenville, S.C. to begin play in the 2010-11.

Charlotte Checkers Move Up To AHL

The Charlotte Checkers received unanimous approval from the Board to move up to the American Hockey League for the 2010-11 season and will relinquish their membership in the ECHL at the end of the current season.

Voluntary Suspension Extended For Columbia

The Board unanimously approved the extension of the voluntary suspension for Columbia, S.C. for the 2010-11 season as the work on plans to construct a new arena in Lexington County, S.C.

With these moves, the ECHL will operate with nineteen teams in the 2010-11 season. Work is under way on the 2010-11 playing schedule.
So the Checkers are giving up their franchise, not selling/relocating.

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02-18-2010, 08:23 AM
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I hope the Checkers know what they are doing. They had a very successful business model that they are radically changing. I personally don't see how a move to the AHL is going to be an upgrade for them from an income standpoint.

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02-18-2010, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
I hope the Checkers know what they are doing. They had a very successful business model that they are radically changing. I personally don't see how a move to the AHL is going to be an upgrade for them from an income standpoint.
AIUI, it is a larger financial expense to run an AHL team compared to an ECHL team.

Temper that with the fact that instead of being responsible for the salaries of maybe 90% of your roster, you now only have to cover perhaps 25% or less (as the NHL affiliate picks up the rest -- I'd guess, but it would depend on the affiliation agreement).

However, there will be an increase in their travel budget, as instead of busing to some locations, they're going to have to fly to a bunch (or really long bus trips). Their closest AHL opponents will be in Virginia (Norfolk) or Pennsylvania (Hershey, WBS).

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02-18-2010, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyStanley View Post
AIUI, it is a larger financial expense to run an AHL team compared to an ECHL team.

Temper that with the fact that instead of being responsible for the salaries of maybe 90% of your roster, you now only have to cover perhaps 25% or less (as the NHL affiliate picks up the rest -- I'd guess, but it would depend on the affiliation agreement).

However, there will be an increase in their travel budget, as instead of busing to some locations, they're going to have to fly to a bunch (or really long bus trips). Their closest AHL opponents will be in Virginia (Norfolk) or Pennsylvania (Hershey, WBS).
Yes, the NHL parent club takes care of the majority of player salaries, coaching salaries, etc, but the AHL pays an affiliation fee to the parent club. Depending on the fee, it could be more than what they were paying in salary on top of whatever the cost was for the franchise.

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02-18-2010, 12:32 PM
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Don't underestimate Charlotte's insatiable desire to be thought of as major-league in every way possible. As the NHL is impossible for them, the closest they can get in hockey will be a tight relationship with the Hurricanes. Seeing a "Charlotte" team on NHL '11, and other exposure of that sort, will do a lot to drive ticket sales there.

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02-18-2010, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Don't underestimate Charlotte's insatiable desire to be thought of as major-league in every way possible. As the NHL is impossible for them, the closest they can get in hockey will be a tight relationship with the Hurricanes. Seeing a "Charlotte" team on NHL '11, and other exposure of that sort, will do a lot to drive ticket sales there.
That's all well and good, but, again, you had a business model that worked and you now have joined a league where you spent x amount of dollars for an AHL franchise, will be spending y amount of dollars per year for an affiliation agreement and have increased your travel expenses.

Having spent a lot of time in Charlotte over the past few years I completely understand their desire to be a major league city. However, would the fans there prefer to have a team built to win games (ECHL) or one built for prospect development (AHL)?

Time will tell how this plays out.

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02-18-2010, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
That's all well and good, but, again, you had a business model that worked and you now have joined a league where you spent x amount of dollars for an AHL franchise, will be spending y amount of dollars per year for an affiliation agreement and have increased your travel expenses.
Not knowing the values of x and y, or for that matter any of the other financials involved, makes this a murky issue to those of us who don't own the team. Presumably the decision was made with profit in mind, so one would hope that it was a sound business decision first and foremost.

Quote:
However, would the fans there prefer to have a team built to win games (ECHL) or one built for prospect development (AHL)
These need not be mutually exclusive. The chances of being a winner in the AHL are just as good as in the ECHL.

I don't necessarily support or oppose the change, because I quite liked the ECHL, but I do think that Charlotte is capable of supporting either league given its size and long-term fanbase. The opportunity to partner with the Canes makes a lot of sense for the Checkers.

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02-18-2010, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Not knowing the values of x and y, or for that matter any of the other financials involved, makes this a murky issue to those of us who don't own the team. Presumably the decision was made with profit in mind, so one would hope that it was a sound business decision first and foremost.
Valid point. All we do know is that they got nothing in return for their ECHL franchise and will be spending an undisclosed amount for the franchise and another undisclosed amount for an affiliation fee. Both of which are, most likely more than what they have been paying in ECHL salaries.

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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey
These need not be mutually exclusive. The chances of being a winner in the AHL are just as good as in the ECHL.
This is a debate that can go around and around. IMO winning at the AHL level is secondary to player development (heck it's right on the AHL website "player development is a top priority). On the other hand ECHL teams build teams to win games. With that in mind IMO the ECHL Checkers have a better chance of being a winner than the AHL Checkers who have zero say in player/personnel decisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey
I don't necessarily support or oppose the change, because I quite liked the ECHL, but I do think that Charlotte is capable of supporting either league given its size and long-term fanbase. The opportunity to partner with the Canes makes a lot of sense for the Checkers.
I don't think there is any question that Charlotte is capable of supporting AHL hockey. I just don't know if this is the right move or not. To be perfectly honest, I enjoy the ECHL game more than I do the AHL game in their present states. Even though the level of talent is higher in the AHL, I think the ECHL game is more enjoyable to watch. For the Checkers' sake I hope that the fans there don't share that feeling and decide to not go to the game because they don't enjoy the AHL product as much as they enjoyed the ECHL product, especially if the Hurricanes don't put a competitive product on the ice. And, truth be told, the Hurricanes haven't exactly been a success story at the AHL level. The Lock Monsters were mediocre at best (sans 1 very good season, which was the lockout year and split an affiliation with Calgary) and the River Rats have been about the same with 2 seasons making the playoffs, but not getting out of the 1st round and missing the playoffs last season while this season they are better than average in a division being dominated by Hershey.

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02-18-2010, 03:01 PM
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This has a few interesting points about the Checkers:

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[...]the Checkers, a franchise that ranks as one of the better East Coast Hockey League draws but struggles to break even because of lease restrictions. The Checkers have little control over their home ice because the team plays at Time Warner Cable Arena, a building owned by the city but operated by the anchor tenant, the NBA Charlotte Bobcats.

Kahn says the proximity to the Hurricanes franchise and potential promotional ties should boost attendance and the Checkers’ bottom line.

Asked whether the move presents greater financial demands, Kahn says, “If we sell enough tickets — no.”
Although when that was written the Checkers were still interested in/trying to sell the ECHL franchise.

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02-18-2010, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
With that in mind IMO the ECHL Checkers have a better chance of being a winner than the AHL Checkers who have zero say in player/personnel decisions.
Maybe I'm missing something in your reasoning, but wouldn't their chances of winning generally hover around 50/50? As far as I know, the Checkers won't be at any sort of handicap or advantage compared to the competition, so we wouldn't expect extraordinarily good or bad results on the ice.

The one sticking point, as you mentioned, would be if the Canes do a poor job as a parent club. Hopefully a cozy relationship is currently forming, and the teams are so close geographically that neglect shouldn't be a problem. But that will depend on the professionalism and competence of all involved.

I do definitely enjoy the ECHL games, but on the other hand I like the intuitive relationship that will exist between Charlotte and Raleigh. What has formed could be described as a sort of Carolina Hockey brand, somewhat larger than either individual franchise. I hope that a nearby ECHL team (G'boro, Charleston, Cola) could be the third tier member sometime in the future. This is all tremendously healthy for the hockey culture of the Carolinas and I do hope that it works out for Charlotte.

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02-19-2010, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Maybe I'm missing something in your reasoning, but wouldn't their chances of winning generally hover around 50/50? As far as I know, the Checkers won't be at any sort of handicap or advantage compared to the competition, so we wouldn't expect extraordinarily good or bad results on the ice.
The disadvantage the AHL Checkers have is that their ownership group has no control over signing players and are completely at the mercy of the Hurricanes whose primary goal for their AHL team is player development, while the ECHL Checkers fill their roster to win games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey
The one sticking point, as you mentioned, would be if the Canes do a poor job as a parent club. Hopefully a cozy relationship is currently forming, and the teams are so close geographically that neglect shouldn't be a problem. But that will depend on the professionalism and competence of all involved.
The only thing you can reference is the Hurricanes lack of success at the AHL level in the recent past, which includes virtually no playoff success (when they even make it). That said I don't think "neglect" will be a problem. I'm sure that you'll see Hurricanes brass there quite often, but it won't be to watch the team win, it will be to see how their prospects are developing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey
I do definitely enjoy the ECHL games, but on the other hand I like the intuitive relationship that will exist between Charlotte and Raleigh. What has formed could be described as a sort of Carolina Hockey brand, somewhat larger than either individual franchise. I hope that a nearby ECHL team (G'boro, Charleston, Cola) could be the third tier member sometime in the future. This is all tremendously healthy for the hockey culture of the Carolinas and I do hope that it works out for Charlotte.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there also some tension between the Raleigh folks and Charlotte folks? If so, could there be some backlash of fans not supporting the Canes AHL franchise?

I'll be curious to see if an AHL team in Carolina begins a southern AHL movement. Certainly the Stingrays have an arena and fanbase to support an AHL team and I believe that the Everblades do as well. Obviously you'd need some current AHL teams to cease operations for this to happen, but such a move would also destroy the ECHL. The loss of the Checkers IMO is a huge blow to the ECHL as it is.

I would like to have this conversation with you next season and see if you like the intuitive relationship between the Canes and Checkers. One of the things that has made the AHL a less enjoyable product for me is the heavy NHL influence. I think it has really weakened the AHL product. I used to go to 20-60 AHL games per season and now I go to less than 10, while I go to more ECHL games now than I used to. Sure there are outside factors that contributed to this, but even without those factors the weaker AHL product is a big factor.

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02-19-2010, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there also some tension between the Raleigh folks and Charlotte folks? If so, could there be some backlash of fans not supporting the Canes AHL franchise?
There is tension in some respects, particularly with state politics and trivial bragging rights, but I don't expect it to manifest itself here. Many people in Charlotte are already supporting the Hurricanes, and more will come on board once the Checkers have a vested interest in the Canes' success.

Based on comments in the local paper the vibe generally seems to be positive (other than standard kvetching about the arena and other local dead horses):
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/che...y/1234742.html

Quote:
I'll be curious to see if an AHL team in Carolina begins a southern AHL movement.
My thoughts exactly. Charlotte and Norfolk are definitely hanging out there as southern "outposts" for the time being. It would make business sense for the AHL to try and move in on the southeast, especially now that the ECHL and NHL have given most of the markets a test run. Time will tell, but it would definitely be a huge advantage for the southern franchises to reduce their travel costs and develop local rivalries.

Quote:
I would like to have this conversation with you next season and see if you like the intuitive relationship between the Canes and Checkers.
I agree. This is going to be a very interesting story to watch for all three leagues involved. In some respects it might be either a model, or a cautionary tale, about how to operate a franchise family in southern markets.

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02-19-2010, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
The disadvantage the AHL Checkers have is that their ownership group has no control over signing players and are completely at the mercy of the Hurricanes whose primary goal for their AHL team is player development, while the ECHL Checkers fill their roster to win games.
NHL teams are limited to 50 NHL contracts (and 20-23 active contracts on the roster). With trades and cap issues, it's a rare organization that goes to the max every year (and fills the AHL roster completely with NHL contracted players). (A NHL organization is also limited to a maximum of 90 players under contract or in juniors/Europe/college not yet signed.)

There are usually at least half a dozen or so AHL contracts (plus any PTO deals for ECHL call ups). These can also include undrafted free agents that the organization is interested in, but not willing to use up a NHL contract on. AHL vets may also sign an AHL deal, rather than a NHL one.

AHL does not have a roster limit (you could have like 40 players, if you wanted), but does limit the number of veterans than can suit up for a game.

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02-19-2010, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyStanley View Post
NHL teams are limited to 50 NHL contracts (and 20-23 active contracts on the roster). With trades and cap issues, it's a rare organization that goes to the max every year (and fills the AHL roster completely with NHL contracted players). (A NHL organization is also limited to a maximum of 90 players under contract or in juniors/Europe/college not yet signed.)

There are usually at least half a dozen or so AHL contracts (plus any PTO deals for ECHL call ups). These can also include undrafted free agents that the organization is interested in, but not willing to use up a NHL contract on. AHL vets may also sign an AHL deal, rather than a NHL one.

AHL does not have a roster limit (you could have like 40 players, if you wanted), but does limit the number of veterans than can suit up for a game.
I'm not sure how this statement applies to the AHL Checkers not having player control. Sure, there can be players signed to AHL contracts, but, in general, most of those (if not all) are still controlled by the parent club.

Now it's possible that the Checkers have worked out a deal with the Hurricanes where they can sign a couple of players, like Hershey and Chicago, but how likely is that after purchasing an AHL franchise and now paying an affiliation fee (not to mention that the ECHL Checkers scouting department has virtually no experience in scouting AHL players)?

But, even if they Checkers can sign a player or two, they are still at the mercy of the Hurricanes for the majority of their roster and coaching staff. My point being that they are going from a situation where they had a direct impact on their roster to a situation where they will have little to no impact.

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02-19-2010, 11:22 AM
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I can't speak for all organizations, but the Sharks organization does most of the pro scouting WRT looking for players, not the AHL franchise.

Invitees to the NHL Sharks rookie and full camp may be assigned to the AHL Sharks camp and eventually offered a contract.

As far as scouting the opposition, I don't know. (I'm more connected to the NHL side than AHL side. But I'll try to ask the question and get an answer. However due to the Olympic break, it'll be next week at the earliest for an answer.)

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02-19-2010, 02:05 PM
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I guess I just feel that if all AHL teams are in the same boat, the Checkers will be no more likely to win or lose than they were before.

Everyone in the AHL is playing by the same rules so it's not quite accurate to say they are at a "disadvantage", more like they are in less control of their fate.

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