For years the local senior hockey circles have been talking about interlocking play between the Western and Eastern leagues. It has long been known and acknowledged publically that these teams are paying their players, something the teams have never come out and admitted, but everyone knows players and they talk about it, we all know.
Apparently Clarenville, Conception Bay and Mount Pearl are attempting to become 3 initial franchises in a NL semi-pro league. It is believed that if they are approved by Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, the three western franchises of Corner Brook, Deer Lake and Grand Falls-Windsor would enter as a western division. Of course the catch is that semi-pro would bring about larger operating budgets by being able to import more players. This is an issue for Deer Lake which barely manages by each season, and Corner Brook, who were saved at the 11th hour from a move to Stephenville in the middle of last season.
There has also been interest from both Gander and Stephenville at landing expansion teams if everything falls into place. Both have rinks with capacities in the 1200 range and populations (surrounding areas) of 15-20,000.
Previously, teams attracted players with ECHL and AHL experience to fill out 3 import spots per teams. With a move to semi-pro, this would likely grow to about a quarter of the roster being imported, if not more. All in all, creating a similar set-up to the LNAH in Quebec, which is exciting news for Newfoundlanders outside of St. John's.
So, where does this potential league fit into the landscape? I guess that's what I'm asking here. I mean, most of these teams play in rinks larger than what were seeing enter the FHL, tickets are priced around $10 and up from what I remember in Corner Brook (but they had horrible attendance, thus the reason they nearly moved). They won't have to pay a whole lot for local talent to fill the bottoms of their rosters and would be able to afford higher priced talent from the mainland. So yeah, feel free to discuss.
I guess the only real change with the teams would be adding the 'pro' title on them. Like you said, these guys are getting money. I am not familiar with the scene in Newfoundland, but I have been following the senior teams there. Just wondering why the change now to pro?
Clarenville won the Allan Cup this year, but moving to 'pro' would not allow them to compete for it anymore. So why change that? Also, with the rumours of the Moose moving to St. John's, maybe a pro league wouldn't be a great idea.
Personally I would like to see a maritime pro hockey league, with the winners doing battle withe LNAH winners for an Atlantic championship.