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What you lose when you join the ECHL

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Old
10-09-2014, 11:23 PM
  #1
speedrissr
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What you lose when you join the ECHL

I posted this on the local Wichita board and I think it rings true, so I thought I'd share since we cut / traded a local fan favorite today:
-----------------------
To quote Blake Sebring (One of Fort Wayne's beat writers) from his article I posted yesterday (Here is the link: http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pb...ORTS/141009678):

"the Komets may no longer have face-of-the-franchise players like Colin Chaulk, Guy Dupuis, Nick Boucher or a Kaleigh Schrock, likely the last Fort Wayne skater to play as many as five years."

It stinks to lose a guy like Summers, who was one of the few guys ever to spend time with the kids outside of Thunder functions, but its part of what the ECHL is, something we're going to lose as we become an ECHL franchise. Knowing Matt slightly on a personal level, I can speak to how much he enjoys hanging out at the rink with younger players. He's a great guy and it hurts Wichita's youth program to lose a guy like him.

The last few summers have been some of the few times where Thunder players have worked with local kids to help advance their play. Summers, Flath, and Lowe all spent significant time working camps with local kids as part of their efforts to improve local hockey and also to learn how to coach kids. This didn't happen much if at all before Mac (Kevin McClelland, Wichita's coach, who has four Stanley Cup rings when he played with the Edmonton Oilers) got here and the Steven's group (Wichita's owners, who also run the local rink here) took over the Thunder and the Ice Center, the few exceptions I can recall were Jason Duda and Tyler Liebel, other than that, the Thunder players weren't that interested in working with local kids. Part of that is the guys who put the time in and were motivated to run camps, part of it was Mac and the Steven's group working to find and give guys like RG, Matt and Ian a chance to do this, along with the players motivation to do so. Its part of being part of a true developmental league, no different than being a baseball player in a town with a A, AA or AA baseball team. These guys aren't as much motivated to be a local presence and help local kids as they are in improving their chances to move up. Its not a bad thing, just part of what you get when you have a local team that is developmental, as opposed to something more like the Thunder were and the Wingnuts (a local non affilianted independant league baseball team) are.

You don't see this much, if ever, in most ECHL cities, due to the nature of the league. The ECHL is what it is, a developmental league, one of the things you lose is having guys like Jason Duda stick around for 15 years. You might get the rare chance to see a goalie end up in the NHL, but you rarely get to watch a guy for 5, much less 15 years.

Plus, ignoring what the kids lose, you don't get the chance to go plus 2 against a guy like Ian Lowe during a summer league game, either. Like I just posted, welcome to the ECHL.

Al?

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10-10-2014, 12:49 AM
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Those might be fair comments and sentiments.

That ethos doesn't seem to have sustained any other leagues in this era.

Having said that- soccer fan time. The similar level to ECHL in the US is USL PRO, run by United Soccer Leagues. Most MLS teams will have either an affiliation or their own team next year. That's not chasing out some established teams that have few or no connections. The league anticipates having 5-6 more teams than MLS does next year.

So my question... is the ECHL wedded to the 1:1:1 concept to the exclusion of other possible teams, or can the league think out of the box here?

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10-10-2014, 08:33 AM
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So my question... is the ECHL wedded to the 1:1:1 concept to the exclusion of other possible teams, or can the league think out of the box here?
I don't think that the ECHL can sustain 28, much less 30 or 32 (If Hamilton and another NHL city get teams as rumored for years). I'd bet the ECHL has 25 or less teams next year, between the AHL moving west and the instability of the ECHL in general (The ECHL has, on average, had three teams fold or move, including three mid season folds). If they lose the West Coast teams and three or four other teams fold (Sorry, "Suspend operations"), they're back to where they were before absorbing the CHL.

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10-10-2014, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by speedrissr View Post
I posted this on the local Wichita board and I think it rings true, so I thought I'd share since we cut / traded a local fan favorite today:
-----------------------
To quote Blake Sebring (One of Fort Wayne's beat writers) from his article I posted yesterday (Here is the link: http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pb...ORTS/141009678):

"the Komets may no longer have face-of-the-franchise players like Colin Chaulk, Guy Dupuis, Nick Boucher or a Kaleigh Schrock, likely the last Fort Wayne skater to play as many as five years."

It stinks to lose a guy like Summers, who was one of the few guys ever to spend time with the kids outside of Thunder functions, but its part of what the ECHL is, something we're going to lose as we become an ECHL franchise. Knowing Matt slightly on a personal level, I can speak to how much he enjoys hanging out at the rink with younger players. He's a great guy and it hurts Wichita's youth program to lose a guy like him.

The last few summers have been some of the few times where Thunder players have worked with local kids to help advance their play. Summers, Flath, and Lowe all spent significant time working camps with local kids as part of their efforts to improve local hockey and also to learn how to coach kids. This didn't happen much if at all before Mac (Kevin McClelland, Wichita's coach, who has four Stanley Cup rings when he played with the Edmonton Oilers) got here and the Steven's group (Wichita's owners, who also run the local rink here) took over the Thunder and the Ice Center, the few exceptions I can recall were Jason Duda and Tyler Liebel, other than that, the Thunder players weren't that interested in working with local kids. Part of that is the guys who put the time in and were motivated to run camps, part of it was Mac and the Steven's group working to find and give guys like RG, Matt and Ian a chance to do this, along with the players motivation to do so. Its part of being part of a true developmental league, no different than being a baseball player in a town with a A, AA or AA baseball team. These guys aren't as much motivated to be a local presence and help local kids as they are in improving their chances to move up. Its not a bad thing, just part of what you get when you have a local team that is developmental, as opposed to something more like the Thunder were and the Wingnuts (a local non affilianted independant league baseball team) are.

You don't see this much, if ever, in most ECHL cities, due to the nature of the league. The ECHL is what it is, a developmental league, one of the things you lose is having guys like Jason Duda stick around for 15 years. You might get the rare chance to see a goalie end up in the NHL, but you rarely get to watch a guy for 5, much less 15 years.

Plus, ignoring what the kids lose, you don't get the chance to go plus 2 against a guy like Ian Lowe during a summer league game, either. Like I just posted, welcome to the ECHL.

Al?

RLR

I have to disagree with what you have stated for the most part. Here in Reading, Ryan Cruthers lives up to most you have stated with the youth programs and years with the team. This may be a isolated case but it shows it does happen. Once again Ryan is a member of the Royals and his commitment to the youth and area will continue. It just really matters to each players commitment to the town they play in. If a certain player decides to be involved in the area, it's a win for not only the player but for the community, usually most of the team follows those commitments also. Here in Reading the Royals are committed to the region and are very involved with the youth also. Before the Royals were founded 14 years ago hockey wasn't noticed much in the area. Now there are high school teams, bantam teams, and the Jr. Royals have been founded. So you can see it takes individual efforts as well as the dedication of the organization that plays there. Hopefully the Witchita region will see that committment from the Thunder and the players to keep those past traditions alive. Welcome to the E !!!

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10-10-2014, 06:16 PM
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Must depend on the team/players. I've played open hockey with numerous ECHL players who played for the local team and were pretty much hanging out at the rink and been in several camps with ECHL and AHL players growing up.

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10-11-2014, 05:55 AM
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It certainly happens in ECHL cities. One of our former players runs the local youth hockey association. One of our current players stayed in town all summer and coached youth hockey. Several of them ran a hockey camp for kids just before the season started and even Coach Mullins came out and worked with the kids. During the season our trainer runs an antibullying program that presents to local schools. He and three or four of the players will go out and speak to the school groups about how to recognize bullying and how to stop it. Our assistant coach (who was a player until this season)'s wife runs a clean up Evansville program with a group of volunteers who once an month go out and clean various neighborhoods. The players are as active and involved in the community as they can be.

This whole notion of players that never stick around that fans won't ever got to know because they're only interested in moving up is some boogie man to scare people with. Yes, you'll have some players that will pass through but you'll always have players that get involved in the community, that look forward to coming back season after season and some that will indeed make a home there. You'll have fan favorites that will move on but you'll have new ones that will come in. It's the way hockey works.

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10-12-2014, 12:15 PM
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Let's be honest. Scouting is good enough to consider half these players at the highest level they'll reach, and the "parent" usually owns only 3-4 players. There's plenty of chances for having a core of players who stick around a while.

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10-12-2014, 02:14 PM
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Let's be honest. Scouting is good enough to consider half these players at the highest level they'll reach, and the "parent" usually owns only 3-4 players. There's plenty of chances for having a core of players who stick around a while.
Disagree -- I went through a league transition myself with the WCHL/ECHL era San Diego Gulls, and really, the difference between the WCHL's vet rules (you needed a minimum of five players with fewer than 150 games pro experience at one point, or something like that) and the ECHL's (you could have a maximum of four players with more than 288 games of experience) was night and day.

San Diego KNEW the business importance of having a core of players who stick around for a while -- but the scarcity of those vet spots makes it a lot harder for a team to both stay under the salary cap AND retain any vet who is good enough to stay in that slot. So, even with the parent only owning a couple of contracts, that mostly left the Gulls to recruit their own ECHL-level players, with few perks to offer players to remain as a core... so the core eroded.

That's not the REASON the Gulls failed, but it is an accurate description of the change of the makeup of the team that was an inevitable result of the league rule changes. The season ticket holders did lose a bit of family, a bit of closeness -- I don't think the reaction to BJ MacPherson's neck injury in the Finals in 2001 would have been quite as visceral had it been someone on the 2005 or 2006 teams, which is kind of sad to look back and see.

BUT -- this is not to say that the ECHL is bad, or that this is a reason that absorptions shouldn't have happened. It's just a fair description of the inevitabilities of change.

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10-14-2014, 01:43 AM
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You lose a lot. I don't think the play is better than the old UHL. Talent? Eh. A good AA hockey player is a good AA hockey player. The ECHL is just a brainwashed numbers game.

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10-17-2014, 05:57 AM
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Reading is one of the exceptions to the rule in the ECHL. Despite Royal fans griping about the way the club is/was run for years, the strength of SMG/AEG's wallets helped lay a really strong foundation in this town and helped create the hockey programs and community support that still go on today. It helped tremendously when a parent club is not only invested in its AA affiliate, but they're willing to take losses (the Royals lose money more often than not) to make it work. Am curious to see how local ownership impacts everything here in the coming years and if the Royals can turn a slow slide in attendance around.

Here are the teams that were in the ECHL in 2001 that are still in the ECHL today, within the same market, without any folds or relocations. For this, Toledo will count because of the arena rebuild even though they took a couple of years off.

Toledo
Wheeling
Florida
South Carolina
Fort Wayne

Including the WCHL teams, you can add...

Alaska
Bakersfield
Idaho

Including the CHL, you can add...

Tulsa
Wichita

You have about a third of the league in the same spot as they were in 2001. Not good considering the level of stability in minor league baseball (yeah, I know it's a different sport and blah blah blah, but stability matters in general).

If the ECHL is to be a developmental league, the model that it operates under now needs to change. The 50 contract limit in the NHL has to be expanded to about 60, meaning that 13-14 guys are parked at the E level instead of 3-4. It's about a million dollars between benefits and pay per NHL club, not a huge investment, and it takes a lot off of the AA club plate to know they're only on the hook for a half dozen or so players, who can be exempt from developmental rules (minor league vets plus the guy who is borderline AA material). This means the NHL has to buy into the ECHL more than it currently does and the ECHL needs to expect more from the NHL parents.

Direct ownership of an ECHL team by a NHL club doesn't always work (see Trenton with the Devils) but it can (see Reading as a good model from the SMG/AEG perspective). That said, an increased investment from the NHL will probably make it easier for the ECHL to find ownership groups that will make minor league hockey work...and will invest in it knowing there's more of a subsidy coming in from up top.

I will also add that the ECHL really, really needs to fill the gaps in the Mid Atlantic. If you think that the NE AHL teams are going to love AA hockey after decades of AAA hockey, I don't think it's going to happen in the short term...Utica, Adirondack, Worcester, and other towns that would be perfect AA fits probably won't take to it immediately so such a shift probably doesn't work in most places. It's going to take the Richmonds, the Roanokes, perhaps the Baltimores (where they haven't had hockey in over 15 years) of the world to help fill in the gaps geographically. In time, the NE AHL markets may warm to AA hockey but I don't see it as an immediate want. When I lived in Minneapolis and we lost the North Stars and got an IHL team (the Moose), nobody went to the games because it was deemed an inferior product (and rightfully so). I can't see most of the NE AHL markets clamoring for ECHL hockey...or supporting it out of the gate if the proposed AHL West takes hold.

The tl;dr -- NHL needs to subsidize the ECHL more and the NE isn't going to support the ECHL if they lose their AHL teams.

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10-17-2014, 10:00 AM
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I right now love the new ownership. I am not a season ticket holder (college sucks), but they went through the database to see who comes to games and gave people calls. I received multiple calls asking about my experiences. They listened and it seems to be looking good. Heck they even bought a brand spanking new scoreboard. The last one just showed the score and had LEDs, the new one is a video board. Much better than the last one which was on the other side of the rink and would be hard to see. Also they have put money up to help renovate some areas to the arena. I am so excited to go home and go to a game the differences.

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10-18-2014, 10:58 AM
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Ft. Wayne was not in the ECHL in 2001. They were never in the ECHL until 2012-2014. In 2001 they were still in the original IHL.

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10-19-2014, 06:06 PM
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This is laughable.

You know what you would have lost had your teams not joined the ECHL?

This entire hockey season.

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10-20-2014, 12:17 AM
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Even so true...this league isn't as great as some spew having seen it for over 7 years.

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10-20-2014, 09:09 AM
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Even so true...this league isn't as great as some spew having seen it for over 7 years.
Simple solution: don't watch it, don't read about it, and lastly don't post about it.

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10-20-2014, 01:34 PM
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Simple solution: don't watch it, don't read about it, and lastly don't post about it.
Hard not to when you live in a city that has it and nothing else.

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10-20-2014, 04:38 PM
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Hard not to when you live in a city that has it and nothing else.
It's not as hard as you think. I live near a major metropolitan area that has 2 MLB teams that are pathetic, one NFL team that is always a major disappointment, an NBA team that has been injury riddled for the past few years, and several college football and basketball teams that are non factors in their conferences. Not once have I gotten on any forums to complain about them 'til now.

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10-20-2014, 07:59 PM
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This is laughable.

You know what you would have lost had your teams not joined the ECHL?

This entire hockey season.
Cool your jets, brah. A mourning period for the shift of the culture fans can expect in the one-ice product is APPROPRIATE, even while being glad that the ECHL was there to catch the CHL's fall. I missed the "pro-heavy" WCHL as it evolved into near-ECHL rules before absorption, for example, but was still happy the ECHL was there for them.

It's possible to miss some things while appreciating others.

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10-22-2014, 09:53 AM
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It's not as hard as you think. I live near a major metropolitan area that has 2 MLB teams that are pathetic, one NFL team that is always a major disappointment, an NBA team that has been injury riddled for the past few years, and several college football and basketball teams that are non factors in their conferences. Not once have I gotten on any forums to complain about them 'til now.
But don't you realize that this is the Internet, and it's much, much easier to complain about something you absolutely hate than praise something you like?

SFTC Addict hates the ECHL, so whenever the conference is discussed, he's just gonna diss on it. Now, I'm not praising the league, and I am fully aware that they tell their players a whopper of a lie when it comes to their future of possibly playing in the AHL or even the NHL, but independent leagues cannot survive anymore in hockey. But, at the same time, I feel that ECHL disdain can get overblown. The "don't like, don't watch" excuse is a terrible one when watching TV shows and movies, but in sports, it's a practical one unless the ECHL team is your only outlet for hockey support. So, if you don't particularly care about the league, I wouldn't bother discussing it unless the issue is about player development.

While the relationship of the ECHL to the NHL is paltry compared to how MLB respects its AA leagues, it is beneficial for the ECHL teams. Also, independent leagues can survive in baseball provided that are multiple markets who can support a franchise and regularly sell out an 8,000 seat ballpark (the Atlantic League is the most obvious example), but hockey? It's very fickle, so the expectations of an independent hockey league like the UHL or even the original IHL aren't as likely considering that a community CAN support a team for a few years, but various factors can undermine long-term support. In independent baseball, you can get away with an 8-team league provided those communities support those clubs, but in hockey, it's an eternal struggle to get a handful of vital markets to legitimately care.

So... you either have to go "corporate", you die out, or you have to settle for the FHL. It's depressing, but it's reality.

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10-22-2014, 11:15 AM
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But don't you realize that this is the Internet, and it's much, much easier to complain about something you absolutely hate than praise something you like?

SFTC Addict hates the ECHL, so whenever the conference is discussed, he's just gonna diss on it. Now, I'm not praising the league, and I am fully aware that they tell their players a whopper of a lie when it comes to their future of possibly playing in the AHL or even the NHL, but independent leagues cannot survive anymore in hockey. But, at the same time, I feel that ECHL disdain can get overblown. The "don't like, don't watch" excuse is a terrible one when watching TV shows and movies, but in sports, it's a practical one unless the ECHL team is your only outlet for hockey support. So, if you don't particularly care about the league, I wouldn't bother discussing it unless the issue is about player development.

While the relationship of the ECHL to the NHL is paltry compared to how MLB respects its AA leagues, it is beneficial for the ECHL teams. Also, independent leagues can survive in baseball provided that are multiple markets who can support a franchise and regularly sell out an 8,000 seat ballpark (the Atlantic League is the most obvious example), but hockey? It's very fickle, so the expectations of an independent hockey league like the UHL or even the original IHL aren't as likely considering that a community CAN support a team for a few years, but various factors can undermine long-term support. In independent baseball, you can get away with an 8-team league provided those communities support those clubs, but in hockey, it's an eternal struggle to get a handful of vital markets to legitimately care.

So... you either have to go "corporate", you die out, or you have to settle for the FHL. It's depressing, but it's reality.
Dogindy, that was well thought out and stated clearly.

I'm fortunate there's an abundance of good hockey near my home. One reason, beside the love of the game, that I follow the ECHL, AHL, or NHL is to see how some of the local guys are doing. It adds to the enjoyment of the game when you've known the players since they played at the squirt level in youth hockey.

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10-22-2014, 12:15 PM
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Caught an ECHL game recently. Tickets were $18 and the taverns near the rink served great beer at happy hour prices. Fun night, kids love the game and not too hyped up on "stars".

The hockey...not so good. Sloppy, uninspired play with a lot of guys that aren't much above my local beer league. Developmental league? Nah...its a parking lot for guys that didn't make it into the NHL/AHL club and still want to play after juniors or college. A few bright spots, but not many. Entertaining for the casual fan, dismal for anyone with expectations.

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10-22-2014, 01:59 PM
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It seems like it is a little hard to "lie" when they keep track of how many people make it to the bigs and since the get go. For any person who can do math with a calculator you can see an avg how many people can make it a year. As well as how many in an actual year.

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10-23-2014, 03:44 AM
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It seems like it is a little hard to "lie" when they keep track of how many people make it to the bigs and since the get go. For any person who can do math with a calculator you can see an avg how many people can make it a year. As well as how many in an actual year.
Those numbers are as fudged as an unemployment survey. They would count a guy if he took a faceoff and had to come off and never saw another second of NHL action. They should only count guys who have played a full season in the NHL or guys who have gone up and stayed up. Not one stint never got back windows.

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Caught an ECHL game recently. Tickets were $18 and the taverns near the rink served great beer at happy hour prices. Fun night, kids love the game and not too hyped up on "stars".

The hockey...not so good. Sloppy, uninspired play with a lot of guys that aren't much above my local beer league. Developmental league? Nah...its a parking lot for guys that didn't make it into the NHL/AHL club and still want to play after juniors or college. A few bright spots, but not many. Entertaining for the casual fan, dismal for anyone with expectations.
Pretty much. That or has beans or never was's but saw a fair amount of AHL time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDogindy View Post
But don't you realize that this is the Internet, and it's much, much easier to complain about something you absolutely hate than praise something you like?

SFTC Addict hates the ECHL, so whenever the conference is discussed, he's just gonna diss on it. Now, I'm not praising the league, and I am fully aware that they tell their players a whopper of a lie when it comes to their future of possibly playing in the AHL or even the NHL, but independent leagues cannot survive anymore in hockey. But, at the same time, I feel that ECHL disdain can get overblown. The "don't like, don't watch" excuse is a terrible one when watching TV shows and movies, but in sports, it's a practical one unless the ECHL team is your only outlet for hockey support. So, if you don't particularly care about the league, I wouldn't bother discussing it unless the issue is about player development.

While the relationship of the ECHL to the NHL is paltry compared to how MLB respects its AA leagues, it is beneficial for the ECHL teams. Also, independent leagues can survive in baseball provided that are multiple markets who can support a franchise and regularly sell out an 8,000 seat ballpark (the Atlantic League is the most obvious example), but hockey? It's very fickle, so the expectations of an independent hockey league like the UHL or even the original IHL aren't as likely considering that a community CAN support a team for a few years, but various factors can undermine long-term support. In independent baseball, you can get away with an 8-team league provided those communities support those clubs, but in hockey, it's an eternal struggle to get a handful of vital markets to legitimately care.

So... you either have to go "corporate", you die out, or you have to settle for the FHL. It's depressing, but it's reality.
This is my only outlet unless I wanna commute a couple hours. Minor league hickey 10-15 years ago was solid. Now...its the AHL and some league u have no idea why NHL teams waste time with. For AHL teams it makes sense. The FHL has potential if it was run better. Seems like the old UHL just run very poorly. Guys playing for the love of the game, physicality, rivalries and so on.


Last edited by No Fun Shogun: 10-23-2014 at 07:00 PM. Reason: merging rapid triple post
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10-23-2014, 09:25 AM
  #24
ripham23232
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Those numbers are as fudged as an unemployment survey. They would count a guy if he took a faceoff and had to come off and never saw another second of NHL action. They should only count guys who have played a full season in the NHL or guys who have gone up and stayed up. Not one stint never got back windows.
Why? The player made it to the NHL. He counts as an NHL player. It isn't the ECHL's responsibility to make sure said player stays in the league for x amount of time. He played in the ECHL, then got to the big show, so the ECHL has every right to count him.

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10-23-2014, 10:26 AM
  #25
Avsrule2002
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Originally Posted by ripham23232 View Post
Why? The player made it to the NHL. He counts as an NHL player. It isn't the ECHL's responsibility to make sure said player stays in the league for x amount of time. He played in the ECHL, then got to the big show, so the ECHL has every right to count him.
Not to mention he got paid like an NHL player, even if it was only one game. And ask that player how he feels about that one faceoff. Highlight of his career.

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