Discussion in 'WHL' started by paul-laus, May 7, 2014.
And the aces have been doing it in the ECHL too for a while now so it is a possibility
And two of the three teams mentioned have folded as a result of the expenses.
There's no way that WHL teams are going to want to foot the bill to fly teams in and out of there for games against one team.
I look at that the same way I look at how the Abbotsford Heat worked out for the AHL. Abbotsford was basically way out in the boonies for what was then an entirely central/eastern based league and it meant goofy travel schedules where teams came in to play back-to-back games against the heat and then had to travel countless hours out to get back to the next nearest teams (I think in Texas or Winnipeg). And it lasted for like 3 or 4 years with mediocre attendance before the team was cut loose and moved again. For a bus league like the WHL I can't see the potential to sell them on the idea of flying just for one team or multi-day bus trips from PG. And there just aren't enough other northern communities that you could build a reasonable/stable "chain" of WHL cities to make travel viable through a northern corridor. Not without either grossly over-expanding the league or looking at relocating teams that have no business being uprooted from viable markets.
I mean, look at the whole Nanaimo thing. Part of the reason that's so attractive to the league is that it gives a multi-stop road trip on Vancouver Island. If the league is that wrapped up in addressing the hassle of a ferry ride from Tsawwassen/Port Angeles to Victoria, how would they react to suddenly having to schedule trips from Prince George up into Alaska?
Besides that, in general I just don't see the WHL being in expansion mode right now. I don't think the league can support another team. It's been like 11 years since there was a franchise added to the league and most of those have come as attempts to prevent other relocations. I don't think they can afford to continue cramming franchises into the league just to stop teams from moving around. And aside from Nanaimo I don't see anywhere that would really make sense as an addition. I saw Winnipeg mentioned here, but they now have 2 pro teams in their city. Fans that want cheaper-than-NHL options have the Moose. I don't know if there's the appetite anywhere in Canada to support all 3 major levels of hockey simultaneously. Saskatchewan and Alberta otherwise seem pretty well occupied for teams. And in BC there's not much to look at except Abbotsford which a) looks worse for neighboring Chilliwack having bombed out inside of 6 years and b) is kind of already blocked by the move of the Giants to nearby Langley.
A lot of this expansion talk is a bit silly, IMO. I get it if it's merely hypothetical discussion for fun. But the reality is the league isn't going to expand. They have no intentions of expanding. If anything they have too many teams. Now if you want to discuss relocation that is a different story. I think a small handful of teams could be in that discussion. Obviously Kootenay at the top of the list. I think the league would be more inclined to protect some of the other smaller market teams with history despite financial troubles unless it got to the point where something drastic had to be done. Other than Kootenay moving somewhere else (ideally another team on the island, Nanaimo being the most logical) I don't think much else is very realistic at this point.
Of course it would never happen.I am sure there alot of teams that would like to see Prince George and even Brandon off the face of the map. (Due to travel). If they did (hypothetically) have a team in Alaska. Half the dub teams would have to fold. It would be too costly.
I'm not just talking about Alaska here. That is an extreme example of hypothetical discussion. I'm talking about expansion in general. It just isn't going to happen anytime soon regardless of location. I understand some enjoy discussing options and possibilities but I think it would be more realistic to discuss relocation and which potential teams would/should be moving. That is the much more likely scenario.
Please explain your rationale here. I don't grasp how people continually come up with the same unjustified argument that the quality of play is too watered down. Over on the QMJHL boards it's the same garbage. An 18 team junior loop and a couple of people want the league to drop by 4-6 teams? Great... so fans can watch the same eight teams continually. The reasoning over on the Q boards is that because there are blowouts at times in the Q, it means the talent level is diluted. Or how about more realistically, the cycles between competitive and poor junior squad are the constant cycles and ebbs and flows of a junior team. Stocking up for a couple of years for a deep run followed by a retooling period where teams struggle until their prospects develop....
The current quality of the WHL now the worst I have seen as a fan, IMO. That said, every person is going to have their own opinion on what makes the game good or entertaining. With that statement I'm not suggesting it's due to lack of talent or too many teams diluting the talent pool. I do think there is an element of truth to that but it isn't my rational behind feeling this way. It's more how the game is played now as opposed to years previous. I don't find the product as entertaining but that isn't solely the WHL it's the game in general. It's a completely different game from the one I grew up watching/playing. Now, given the WHL has more teams than both the OHL and QMJHL I think it's fair to say adding even more teams doesn't make a lot of sense. Not unless all the leagues plan on doing so which to my knowledge isn't in the works. I do know as of the past year or so the league has no intentions of adding more teams. They do want to relocate a few possible franchises but adding an expansion team hasn't been on their radar. Now with this Nanaimo rink being shot down I don't know what will happen. Ideally they wanted two teams on the island (that is the main reason Chilliwack moved to Victoria to begin with). This really puts them in a tough spot. They may have to consider another spot now. Where that could be is anybody's guess.
The ONLY way they'd think about Alaska having a team is if Whitehorse or Grande Prarie had one, which is highly unlikely.
But I do hope one day Grande Prarie gets a team.
Brandon for that matter is always going to be in the WHL.
Whitehorse is still too far away. Google Maps lists it as a 4 hour flight (and let's be honest, the WHL is likely not looking for opportunities to have to pay to charter planes for teams) or a 20+ hour bus drive from PG to there. That's insane for even a 2-team min. Plus it's another 13 hours on the bus between Whitehorse and Anchorage.
I could easily be wrong, but I would wager that the distance between any other WHL team and its closest geographic neighbor is probably no worse than 5 or 6 hours. I checked going from PG to Kamloops, Kent to either Portland or Spokane, and Regina to Brandon as test cases and all of them were within a 6ish hour tolerance. Even the trip from Langley to Kelowna (which the Giants are in the midst of right now for a Friday game, and then both teams will make the trek back for a Saturday night game against each other in Langley) is only 4 hours or so on the Trans-Canada. And I'm checking this at 11pm PT, so if there are any time variances in those estimates based on traffic density, they'd likely be at or close to their minimum already.
I cannot see any viable way you can make a far off-shoot "arm" of the league that entails a whole-day bus trip unless you can do a gigantic road trip out of it, like make the 20 hour trek and then have a set of 4-7 games over the course of a week or two in a closed loop of teams that are only a few short hours apart. Not unless you can cut off the gigantic trip by inserting stops in between your two intended destinations (in other words, plant more teams between PG and Whitehorse/Anchorage/whatever). But that's just not viable because there aren't enough communities up there that would be able to sustain a WHL team reliably for the long haul. And I don't think Grand Prairie is even close enough to that northern area to be of any consideration even if they had a team. They would, however, fit in just fine as a bridge between PG and the Alberta teams. I do have questions
Honestly though, like I said before I just don't see expansion in the cards for the league right now. 22 teams is higher than the other CHL teams, but the WHL also covers a much wider geographical footprint, so there are more potential stops to fill in along the map.
They also don't seem to suffer as much of an attendance issue as, say, the Q. But there are a ton of tiny markets there (the WHL has only 2 teams, Prince Albert and Swift Current, that play in arenas with <4,000 seats capacity. On the other hand, the Q has only 7 of its 18 teams with arena capacities over 4,000. Median QMJHL attendance is somewhere around 2,300. Median WHL attendance is closer to 3,800 and only the 3 worst Dub teams in attendance would be at or below that middle-ground Quebec figure). The WHL seems perfectly capable of sustaining the 20-22 franchises like it has right now. And it seems like even if a team like the Ice falters and looks at moving, there are other markets that could swoop in. Maybe if it looks like the Ice are leaving for sure Nanaimo could retry its arena push and get better private financing or a more receptive public?
So the short answer is that I don't see an appetite for expansion on the league's part right now even if there is some desire among communities within league boundaries. Though in spite of positing that there could be "other markets" who would pounce on relocating franchises, I do also wonder how many would be viable. Nanaimo yeah if they have their arena mess solved. I heard suggestion of Wenatchee based on their BCHL support (It's a 3 hour trip to Kent, so I think it's far enough away to not worry about market infringement), but we're now talking about a city of just 30,000. Grand Prairie maybe like mentioned before? I just don't know how many options are out there and workable.
Sorry for the essay. I tend to get carried away when I write. I should probably be using a blog rather than message board posts
I think anything further north than Edmonton is going to have a hard time getting a team. The two most viable options right now would be Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray, and neither are a great bus trip.
If we're assuming Kootenay as the team moving, then I think the league is going to favour anything out west just to get an 11/11 balance in the conferences. If you're looking at a place like GP or FMM, both add at least 2 hours to in-division road trips. Anything further north/northwest adds a lot more hours in generally poorer conditions and just becomes unfeasible.
If BCHL were to ever leave Penticton, the WHL should step in there. Could developa great rivalry with Kelowna and Kamloops
Grande Prairie is not getting a team.
That would be Chilliwack. And I won't even hypothetically pretend they're an option.
I don't think Penticton would have a problem at all supporting a WHL team, however I can't see the WHL wanting two teams in the Okanagan. That said, if the Ice need to relocate, they're running out of suitable options with Nanaimo now going back to the drawing board.
As for the BCHL ever leaving Penticton, it would only happen if the Vees owners sell the franchise to bring in the WHL.
Lastly, I agree with Hordichuk on the league having too many teams. The quality of the league went down after Chilliwack (Victoria) and Edmonton joined and it just kept getting worse.
You could create a artic division
The WHL schedule is already frustrating from a fan's perspective, in that I only get to see the US Division teams every other year. Adding a bunch of teams way up north would have the same effect.
Haha, this would be awesome! ...I don't think the Dawson rink even does artificial ice though. Population is slightly under 1000, but in winter man, ya gotta think 800-900 of those ppl would love a Friday night game! Lol!
Up until 2012 you only Western Conference teams only got to see Crosby and Ovechkin every other year. No different here than in the NHL
I hated when the NHL did it too, but at least I can watch Crosby and Ovechkin on TV frequently. Not to mention that NHL players tend to stay on their teams for long periods of time, while junior players may only spend one or two seasons before making the jump.
That's disgusting to even think about.
I wouldn't call it disgusting just irrational. Dawson City has only has 1300 people. Where are the fans going to come from? Old Crow? Well there is Tuk up there lol
Would Port Alberni be a good place to put a WHL team if they had the rink? Population is more than Swift Current and if Nanaimo got a team it'd be good for them and Victoria as well.
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