Is Expansion something the WHL would consider at this time?

Discussion in 'WHL' started by paul-laus, May 7, 2014.

  1. CraigBillington

    CraigBillington Registered User

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    Curious if the Dub goes down that road again. The first time around was a failed experiment but I think there were a lot of factors....
    Abbotsford Heat took a lot of fans from the Western part of the valley
    Incompetent ownership - same owners who nearly killed the Tri-Cities franchise and apparently actually turned down a better job from a group involving Willie Mitchell and I think Steve Nash that would have kept the team there
    Terrible management that couldn't draft leading to poor on ice play
    With that, being the redheaded step brother to the Giants who were dominant at the time, more competing dollars going elsewhere
    A market that was perfect for the BCHL but wasn't quite ready for the WHL, the atmosphere just wasn't the same as it was with the Chiefs - and I know people were comparing it against the old Coliseum, which was amazing in its day.

    Now, I think with all that plus there being the Giants now 45 minutes away, as well as an empty rink in Abbotsford, I can't see it happening any time soon.
     
  2. PCSPounder

    PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Location:
    Portland. So there.
    I failed to bring this up during the summer regarding the Winterhawks.

    NHL to Portland? Domain Registrations Hint at It

    The Winterhawks response to this was to say that this doesn’t indicate a change coming imminently, that they bought the domains to preserve the integrity of the sport in Portland, or something like that. And I half believe that.

    This wasn’t long after Seattle-to-NHL was “all but locked in” with the ticket drive being so wildly successful.

    I think the Winterhawks are hedging their bets about the future of the US Division. That’s a prudent thing to do.
     
  3. man with a plan

    man with a plan Registered User

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    Expansion is likely on hold for the coming years until the payment issue is fully worked out but I'm sure the league would luv to get to 24 teams (2 more). However, relocation is definitely on the table. BC is prime for more teams Abbotsford likely on the top of the list or maybe another attempt with Chilliwack. Nanaimo is a sure bet once they get an arena (the recent areana proposal was far too extravagant, new mayor = new proposal?) no other island site is a serious possibility . I personally would like to see Vernon with a team creating rivalries with both Kamloops and Kelowna (although Kelowna may put up a jurisdiction dispute). Penticton is much smaller than Vernon and too far removed to be a rival to Kamloops. Prince George is really an anchor for the league, it's too far away for every other team and the market isn't strong enough to justify a team in this isolated northern city. Cranbrook is just too small and I anticipate will move shortly.

    Quite agree Wenatchee is pushing hard to get a team and I think they will with the fallout from the Seattle expansion or elsewhere (they get better attendance than either Swift Current or Prince Albert which similar to Kootenay and Prince George, the league has simply outgrown).
     
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  4. RedWingsHockey

    RedWingsHockey Registered User

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    Seattle expansion is a great opportunity to switch things around. I personally believe that....

    Thunderbirds move to Wenatchee
    Wild move to; Abbotsford, Bellingham, Quesnel, Williams Lake
    AHL Expands to Boise
    Steelheads move to Billings
    Silvertips stay in Everett

    Now with the Wild, I can’t pick a certain city as they all have their problems.

    Abbotsford: Large Population, but not too hockey crazy, and Chilliwack would put up a fight as a lot of Chiefs fans come from Abbotsford. However, adding Abottsford with Chilliwack, Langley, Surrey, and Coquitlam would be very exciting, only problem is the Giants, but I can’t imagine them staying at the LEC once the agreement is up.

    Bellingham: It’s right on the border and is just as good as Abbotsford, however I do not think it is an option yet, however once Seattle has played a few seasons I’d think Bellingham will become a hockey town.

    Quesnel or Williams Lake: These options are extremely unlikely, but I have to think of it as a benefit to the league when it comes to Prince George. Having multiple teams in the North and giving PG a rival within 500k is a plus, and it’s easier for teams to travel to PG when they can add in Merritt and Q/WL. The Williams Lake option has to be least likely, since the T-Wolves issue has been going on for a decade and has no sign of being resolved any time soon.
     
  5. PCSPounder

    PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Location:
    Portland. So there.
    Bone to pick here.

    We know absolutely nothing about whether Abbotsford is hockey-crazy or not.

    My reason for this argument: it was less the AHL that Abbotsford rejected and more the Calgary Flames.

    We can talk about Adirondack, Quad Cities, and Omaha as places the Flames burned on the way to Abbotsford. In the aftermath of Abbotsford, crowds that once filled Stockton Arena for the ECHL Thunder now don't for the Heat. The Flames are better off having their affiliate in the Corral, and probably no further from the bright center of Calgary than that.

    Abbotsford deserves a chance with a team that isn't asking for too many favors to play in a newer arena.
     
  6. MeHateHe

    MeHateHe Registered User

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    Evidence does not point to Abbotsford being terribly crazy about supporting a hockey team. Contrast with Chilliwack who, when they lost the Bruins, immediately filled the void by bringing in the former Williams Lake BCHL team and supporting it reasonably well. Abbotsford, by contrast, lost its AHL team and hasn't been seen to be clamouring for a replacement. In fact, prior to the Heat coming to town, there wasn't anything but Junior B in Abby since the mid 1980s. Most of the other large centres in the lower mainland had at least dalliances with the BCHL over the past couple of decades, but not Abbotsford.

    None of this denigrates Abbotsford, or denies that there are some hockey fans there, but there doesn't seem to be a deep and burning desire to bring back high level hockey.
     
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  7. Fight Guy

    Fight Guy Registered User

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    I believe a big reason for lack of support for Heat in Abbotsford had to do with the fact that the Flames farm team was playing in what you'd expect to be a Canucks market. You're technically cheering for the enemy. This has been my understanding that I read about a number of times when they were still in Abbotsford.
     
  8. PCSPounder

    PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Location:
    Portland. So there.
    Evidence does not point to the BCHL being economical in a larger arena.

    BCHL 2017-18 team attendance at hockeydb.com

    The two largest arenas in the league were 67% full and 50% full in 17-18. Never mind those are two of the three biggest attendance teams in the league; the stories are about decline for the most part.

    No sane potential BCHL owner (if there are any) is going to pay rent in Abbotsford. It's really rather go kind of big or go home.
     
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  9. MeHateHe

    MeHateHe Registered User

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    No, and I'm not suggesting that Abbotsford needs to have a BCHL team in there before they get the WHL. What I am saying is that after Abby lost its Junior A team in 1988, there was no real drive to have similarly high level hockey reinstalled until the Heat came to town. Teams came and went in Burnaby and Langley and Delta and New West and then Chilliwack in the interim, but not Abbotsford. If the city - which has grown along with the rest of the Fraser Valley over the years - had a real mad desire for hockey, it strikes me that someone in the community would have made a push to get one of those moves into Abbotsford at some point. That it didn't suggests to me that there has been no strong demonstration of a desire for a hockey team.
     
  10. DudeWhereIsMakar

    DudeWhereIsMakar Originator of the username

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    I think one day Cranbrook could get a team again one day. I think talks would spring up again once a new arena is built. But I don't think that will happen for a very long time.

    I could name 10-20 places that'd be good for expansion, but the possibilities aren't always there, such as a suitable arena in Nanaimo.

    Would like AHL to be in Abbotsford/Chilliwack, but think an alternate option should be WHL to one of those two. but it's doubtful considering the Canucks' solid relationship with Utica.

    I want Wenatchee to get a team in the near future because of their attendance in the BCHL.

    I think it could come to some point or another where they'll split the WHL in half with one half being the prairie provinces, and one possibly being Washington, Oregon and BC. But I think it's only likely to happen if they bring in more CHL teams.
     
  11. man with a plan

    man with a plan Registered User

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    Dude that already exists, it’s called the eastern and western conference
     
  12. DudeWhereIsMakar

    DudeWhereIsMakar Originator of the username

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    Yeah... but you don't put the OHL and QMJHL together unless it's the memorial cup.

    WHL has the most teams out of the three, they're most likely to divide them out of all three of those leagues.
     
  13. willb892

    willb892 Registered User

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    I was thinking about this the other day. Personally, I'd be all for splitting the WHL if there were enough markets to house suitable teams. The travel in the WHL is insane compared to the other leagues, especially for the American and Sask/Manitoba teams.

    The biggest issue is that the leagues would be too small to just split them in half, you'd probably need to add at least 4-6 teams in each league to make it feasible and comparable to the other CHL leagues. And there are a few markets you could move into right away, but the rest would be a stretch for travel or attendance purposes, as well as threatening the Jr A market in the region.

    Assuming 16 teams is an acceptable amount for a comparable CHL league, here's what a "Pacific" and "Prairie" league could look like: (New times are italicized)

    West Coast HLPrairie Major Junior HL
    American ConferenceWestern Conference
    Everett SilvertipsCalgary Hitmen
    Portland WinterhawksEdmonton Oil Kings
    Seattle ThunderbirdsLethbridge Hurricanes
    Spokane ChiefsMedicine Hat Tigers
    Tri-City AmericansRed Deer Rebels
    Wenatchee WildCranbrook Colts
    Billings BullsFt McMurray Barons
    Missoula MaulersGrande Prairie Thunder
    BC ConferenceEastern Conference
    Kamloops BlazersBrandon Wheat Kings
    Kelowna RocketsWinnipeg Ice
    Prince George CougarsMoose Jaw Warriors
    Vancouver GiantsPrince Albert Raiders
    Victoria RoyalsRegina Pats
    Chilliwack BruinsSaskatoon Blades
    Penticton VeesSwift Current Broncos
    Nanaimo ClippersThunder Bay Storm
    Obviously Thunder Bay is a huge stretch, I'm just not sure who else could fit in the Eastern Conference.
     
  14. MeHateHe

    MeHateHe Registered User

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    Appreciate the thought experiment but you can't complain about travel in the dub and then suggest a league that has teams in Thunder Bay, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie.
    Splitting the league into two isn't a terrible idea from a logistics standpoint, but assuming that scenario wouldn't make people's heads explode, adding 10 teams would probably make the earth stop spinning on its axis. I could see perhaps a couple additional teams in the west (Nanaimo and Wenatchee) but not Penticton, Chilliwack, Billings or Missoula. As for the former eastern conference, I'm not sure there's an argument for any city in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba that doesn't already have a major junior team being large enough and having a robust enough long-term economy for it to come to fruition. Other considerations:
    - Does a 12-team major junior league make sense?
    - Can greater Seattle support two major junior teams plus an NHL franchise?
    - Where is Seattle's AHL team going?
     
  15. willb892

    willb892 Registered User

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    I agree with you, I was just sort of visualizing how the leagues could look, with what I thought the best available markets would be, and seeing what kinds of roadblocks there could be from splitting the league. Adding this many teams would be ridiculous and deplete the talent pool too much, but to me a 12 team major junior league covering 3 provinces or 1 province and 2 states doesn't really make sense to me either, especially considering how many teams make up the OHL and QMJHL. You either spread the players and markets too thin, or make the leagues smaller and insignificant compared to their eastern counterparts.

    And my scenario goes for the best case scenario when it comes to Seattle, but that's obviously not a guarantee. I'm not sure the Thunderbirds AND Silvertips survive, but I think 1 should, and the other could possibly move to Wenatchee. But keeping both AND expanding to Wenatchee is admittedly a bit of a stretch.

    As far as Seattle's AHL team, Boise or Salt Lake City make the most sense, although they could try to uproot the Winterhawks and put a team there, further weakening the WHL. Fresno could be a good candidate too.
     
  16. DudeWhereIsMakar

    DudeWhereIsMakar Originator of the username

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    Correct, because when their then-affiliate Manitoba Moose would come to play the Heat they'd sell out the whole building. That's why I think it's more than a good idea to place an AHL team in Chilliwack/Abbotsford, somewhere closer to Vancouver anyway. Do-able now because of the Pacific Division.

    Thunder Bay needs a new arena, and nothing other than an AHL/ECHL team plays there.
     
  17. MeHateHe

    MeHateHe Registered User

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    I would agree that a 12-team major junior league probably doesn't work anymore. Kinda boggles my mind the mindset that a 12-team league from Victoria to Brandon was the norm for nearly a decade.
    If the problem you're trying to solve is travel, I think the best solution is to eliminate regular season play between the east and west - I suspect this would also not sit well with some, but you could reduce the regular season by another four games and eliminate those ridiculous regular season road trips. Put Swift Current with the Alberta teams and have two six team divisions in the east; add Nanaimo (assuming they build a new arena) and Wenatchee (given that they draw 3000+ for BCHL games, I think they can survive even with Everett and Seattle in the mix) and have two six-team divisions in the west and then cross over either in the final or (better) in the league semifinals. If the T-Birds can't survive when the NHL arrives, maybe go back to Tacoma (again, arena challenges) or Chilliwack, but an 11-team western conference would work just fine too.
     
  18. PCSPounder

    PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Location:
    Portland. So there.
    Seattle media has hinted (obviously with leaks from OVG) that Boise and Palm Springs are under consideration for the AHL franchise. Of course, they also hint at a June announcement, but unless they've either (1) prepared to tank Boise's ECHL franchise ticket sales for two years, or (2) committed to a psycho super secret land acquisition in California that OVG funds themselves and somehow escapes all public scrutiny, June is an impractical announcement time.

    Just, um, er, I'm not into the Palm Springs idea. The demographics are really poor IMO. There might be money there, but fans? Eh.

    As for the split idea... nah. It'll be overwhelmed by the CHL issue. Not that I can't nitpick... while Missoula isn't too far from Spokane, adding Billings is a terrible idea amongst owners who want simpler bus rides. Besides, you have Salem and Eugene sitting to the south of Portland... beating a UO varsity team into Eugene among a college population with substantial Portland ties (who know the Winterhawks) could be profitable. Salem even has an ag arena of sorts that could be repurposed for hockey... the Winterhawks looked at it the last time Memorial Coliseum was threatened with razing. Both markets are larger than Billings.
     

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