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IHL brought back to life


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UGH! The old IHL logo was much better.

Well, three of the teams were from the old IHL (at some point at least). OK! In time, they should bring back the Detroit Vipers, Orlando Solar Bears and Kansas City Blades! :D


Wednesday, 20 June 2007

LAKE ST. LOUIS, MO--- In a live announcement broadcast via United Hockey League (UHL) corporate partner B2 Networks on Wednesday at the league’s Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, the UHL announced that it is immediately changing its name to the International Hockey League (IHL). Paul L. Pickard has been named the first President/CEO of the new IHL.

The IHL will consist of six teams in its inaugural season. The Bloomington PrairieThunder, the Flint Generals, the Fort Wayne Komets, the Kalamazoo Wings and the Muskegon Fury join the league after being member clubs of the UHL during the 2006-07 season. The sixth IHL team will be the Port Huron Icehawks based in Port Huron, Michigan. New Governors Frank Kinney and Robert Lahiff will be announcing more details about their hockey club in the near future. The Generals also had a recent ownership change as the transition from the former owners to Bob Perani was approved by the league.

“I am excited to announce the new IHL, and I am excited to lead the new era of this league,” stated IHL President/CEO Paul L. Pickard. “One of the key focuses of the IHL Board of Governors and the League Office will be to make on- and off-ice changes for the 2007-08 season that will create a better experience for the fans. At the top of the list, we are going to put an emphasis on strong ownership so that the fans can count on our member clubs being a long-term part of the IHL and on making the on-ice product much more physical and exciting.”

The IHL also announced its Executive Committee for the 2007-08 season. The Chairman of the Board of Governors will be Michael Franke of Fort Wayne, and the Vice Chairman will be Bob Perani of Flint.

Below is other information that was given during the live broadcast and/or transpired during the Annual Meeting:

- The IHL office will be located in Rochester, Michigan and will consist of four employees, league counsel and the President/CEO. During the summer, the UHL office in Lake St. Louis, Missouri will close and transition to the new office in Michigan. Existing UHL employees have been given the opportunity to relocate to the new league office.

- The IHL league website is being launched this evening at www.ihl-hockey.com.

- The new logo for the league was unveiled during the broadcast.

- The 76-game 2007-08 season will take place between October 19, 2007 and April 6, 2008.

- A deal was signed with B2 Networks to broadcast all IHL games via broadband for the next three seasons.

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They might as well have called themselves the "Michigan-and-a-Couple-of-Nearby-States Hockey League". Not only is it not international, but two-thirds of the league is based in one U.S. state!

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The logo is not good.

Now, with sufficient logo discussion aside, let's get on to the details of this league, whose re-branding comes as no surprise to those (Dilbert and rams80 immediately come to mind) with pretty in-depth knowledge of Midwestern minor league hockey.

This venture comes across as little more than a pet league to fluff the egos and line the pockets of two ownership groups: the Frankes in Fort Wayne, and whoever's running things in Muskegon (and Bloomington, too?) These guys want as much control as possible over their league, even if that has to be a fringe league somewhere in the murky depths of what is deemed AA level. They have proven, successful franchises that could easily succeed at higher levels, but instead keep things toward the bottom of the hockey food chain to cut down overhead and pump up profits - and to continue their positions as big fish in the small pond. Eight thousand people a night will be lining up in Fort Wayne to watch goon-league hockey (more on that later,) when fans of one of the longest-running franchises in minor league hockey deserve better. Instead, they will be treated to a league of washouts and marginals, playing the brand of hockey mocked in "Slap Shot" 30 years ago. The new I will remain a 6-to-8 team league for however long it runs, with the Fort Wayne and Muskegon ownership groups surrounded by a rotating cast of whatever suckers they can get on the hook to plop down a few mil for a couple of seasons, until they're bled dry.

What really raises my ire are these announced rule changes:

- The instigator penalty has been eliminated except during the final five minutes of a game.

- In regards to secondary altercations, players will receive a 10-minute misconduct as opposed to a game misconduct.

Make no mistake - these rules are designed to encourage and promote fighting in the league. Goons and thugs whose style of play has mercifully eroded over the past couple decades will be encouraged once again to "get chippy" with the knowledge that lesser repercussions await them for repeated drops of the gloves, or for cocking the fist while the other guy still has his gloves on.

I hope to God this fake I-league doesn't receive permission to award the Turner Cup, the trophy I saw hoisted high and skated across the ice in front of 18,000 howling fans in 1998, in the league that taught me a love of hockey I hadn't known before. If the words "Bloomington PrairieThunder" get etched on the side of that, I'm taking a trip up to Toronto and throwing up in the bowl.

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Talk about a league on life support! My brother played in this league for Flint when it was the Colonial Hockey League and it has always struggled to find an audiance and a worth while marketing initiative. I bet you that within two seasons the following will happen.

1) Port Huron will have folded.....AGAIN!

2) The league wil put yet another team in the Detroit area and it too will fold.

3)Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo will bolt to the AHL

4)Blomington and Flint will join the Central Hockey League

5)With only Muskegon and possibly another expansion team in a bad city (probably Knoxville or Kentucky) the Colonial/United/International Hockey League will die.

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3)Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo will bolt to the AHL

Fort Wayne doesn't want a part of any league it can't exercise a significant amount of control over. Thusly, no trip to the AHL for them, no matter how much evidence says they would be a quite successful AHL market.

For the Komets, joining the A would be like Notre Dame football joining the Big East. It would benefit the league a whole lot more than it would the team joining it.


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