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Yet Another ECHL Team Folds...


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PHOENIX (AP) -The Phoenix RoadRunners will fold following their East Coast Hockey League regular-season finale Saturday.

The RoadRunners, last in the West Division with a 29-36-2-3 record heading into their final two games at Idaho, announced the decision Thursday.

The team, wrapping up its fourth ECHL season, is owned by the NBA's Phoenix Suns and is an affiliate of the NHL's San Jose Sharks and AHL's Worcester Sharks.

The RoadRunners, who folded as an IHL franchise in 1997 after the Phoenix Coyotes' inaugural NHL season, returned as a member of the ECHL in 2005-06.

They played their home games at US Airways Center, the Coyotes' arena until the NHL team moved into a new building in suburban Glendale in December 2003.

The RoadRunners made the Kelly Cup playoffs in 2007, but had trouble drawing fans for most of their ECHL tenure.

Too bad. I enjoy ECHL hockey, but maybe a restructuring or re-planning of the business model is needed.

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The Sea Wolves are finished?

Aw man, that really sucks. I went to more than a few games while I was down on the coast. I used to love that they had a Mardi Gras jersey whenever it was that time of year. This really sucks, I feel like a part of the preteen child in me just died.

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Too bad. I enjoy ECHL hockey, but maybe a restructuring or re-planning of the business model is needed.

Actually, an end to the recession is needed. Dayton and Phoenix had been rather sickly for awhile before the bottom fell out of the economy.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL. With the troubles of the ECHL and the major, major issues in the IHL, it's the only way to make sure that level of hockey stays active for the future.

(I'm not being a CHL homer. It's the best-run of the three leagues.)

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL. With the troubles of the ECHL and the major, major issues in the IHL, it's the only way to make sure that level of hockey stays active for the future.

(I'm not being a CHL homer. It's the best-run of the three leagues.)

The only way that would happen is if the PHPA got kicked to the curb by the ECHL - and that's not happening. Owners put their teams in the C or the Fake I to avoid financial obligations required by the union. In some cases, team owners are currently in the process of dodging large sums previously owed to the union *cough*Frankes*cough*.

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The Sea Wolves are finished?

...And thus we see the last member of the once-proud "I-10 component" in the ECHL slide into oblivion:

Jacksonville Lizard Kings

Tallahassee Tiger Sharks

Pensacola Ice Pilots

Mobile Mystics

Mississippi Sea Wolves

New Orleans Brass

Baton Rouge Kingfish

Louisiana Ice Gators

All gone now. R.I.P.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL. With the troubles of the ECHL and the major, major issues in the IHL, it's the only way to make sure that level of hockey stays active for the future.

(I'm not being a CHL homer. It's the best-run of the three leagues.)

The only way that would happen is if the PHPA got kicked to the curb by the ECHL - and that's not happening. Owners put their teams in the C or the Fake I to avoid financial obligations required by the union. In some cases, team owners are currently in the process of dodging large sums previously owed to the union *cough*Frankes*cough*.

The PHPA is also in the CHL (read about that here and here) and could be coming to the I pretty soon.

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The Sea Wolves are finished?

...And thus we see the last member of the once-proud "I-10 component" in the ECHL slide into oblivion:

Jacksonville Lizard Kings

Tallahassee Tiger Sharks

Pensacola Ice Pilots

Mobile Mystics

Mississippi Sea Wolves

New Orleans Brass

Baton Rouge Kingfissh

Louisiana Ice Gators

All gone now. R.I.P.

That was all so awesome. These teams, for the most part, were SO close to each other. Good time to be a hockey fan in that part of the country.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL.

The last thing that AA-level minor-league hockey needs to do in order to stabilize itself is attempt to form a single, nationwide, 30-team circuit. The economics of such an arrangement barely make sense at the AHL's AAA-level. Franchises in the ECHL are slowly being killed-off economically by attempting to survive in such a continent-spanning set-up.

Rather, three geographically-regional AA-level leagues of ten teams each should be organized. They should all agree to play their own independent schedules throughout the regular season, only combining forces - perhaps - for a playoff between each circuits top few teams. Either that, or you launch a single entity with the understanding that teams in said league's three geographically-regional conferences never play outside their respective conferences during the regular season.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL.

The last thing that AA-level minor-league hockey needs to do in order to stabilize itself is attempt to form a single, nationwide, 30-team circuit. The economics of such an arrangement barely make sense at the AHL's AAA-level. Franchises in the ECHL are slowly being killed-off economically by attempting to survive in such a continent-spanning set-up.

Rather, three geographically-regional AA-level leagues of ten teams each should be organized. They should all agree to play their own independent schedules throughout the regular season, only combining forces - perhaps - for a playoff between each circuits top few teams. Either that, or you launch a single entity with the understanding that teams in said league's three geographically-regional conferences never play outside their respective conferences during the regular season.

The latter shouldn't be too hard; the ECHL effectively operates as an Eastern League and a Western League during the regular season.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL. With the troubles of the ECHL and the major, major issues in the IHL, it's the only way to make sure that level of hockey stays active for the future.

(I'm not being a CHL homer. It's the best-run of the three leagues.)

I think this is actually a great idea.

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If the Coyotes are struggling to stay afloat in Phoenix this only makes sense.

Guess so.

I could see minor league hockey thriving in places where an NHL franchise would falter due to higher ticket prices, but don't know if Phoenix would be among them.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL.

The last thing that AA-level minor-league hockey needs to do in order to stabilize itself is attempt to form a single, nationwide, 30-team circuit. The economics of such an arrangement barely make sense at the AHL's AAA-level. Franchises in the ECHL are slowly being killed-off economically by attempting to survive in such a continent-spanning set-up.

Rather, three geographically-regional AA-level leagues of ten teams each should be organized. They should all agree to play their own independent schedules throughout the regular season, only combining forces - perhaps - for a playoff between each circuits top few teams. Either that, or you launch a single entity with the understanding that teams in said league's three geographically-regional conferences never play outside their respective conferences during the regular season.

The latter shouldn't be too hard; the ECHL effectively operates as an Eastern League and a Western League during the regular season.

A lot would need to be worked out to make this successful.

The first issue would be just what the hell to do with the IHL. It doesn't really fit into either the ECHL or CHL's geographic footprint but has some profitable teams that should be included. That is, after all, where hockey is extremely popular.

Which teams to contract would also be an issue.

Then there would have to be the task of assigning affiliations. Would they be based on the nearest AHL franchise or NHL franchise to latch onto the parent club's popularity? Would teams split affiliations?

And then players who aren't property of any NHL system would need to be figured into this. Many of the IHL and CHL teams are filled with unaffiliated players. What happens to them?

There is a lot that needs to be ironed out but I think it could (could) work.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL.

The last thing that AA-level minor-league hockey needs to do in order to stabilize itself is attempt to form a single, nationwide, 30-team circuit. The economics of such an arrangement barely make sense at the AHL's AAA-level. Franchises in the ECHL are slowly being killed-off economically by attempting to survive in such a continent-spanning set-up.

Rather, three geographically-regional AA-level leagues of ten teams each should be organized. They should all agree to play their own independent schedules throughout the regular season, only combining forces - perhaps - for a playoff between each circuits top few teams. Either that, or you launch a single entity with the understanding that teams in said league's three geographically-regional conferences never play outside their respective conferences during the regular season.

The latter shouldn't be too hard; the ECHL effectively operates as an Eastern League and a Western League during the regular season.

A lot would need to be worked out to make this successful.

The first issue would be just what the hell to do with the IHL. It doesn't really fit into either the ECHL or CHL's geographic footprint but has some profitable teams that should be included. That is, after all, where hockey is extremely popular.

Which teams to contract would also be an issue.

Then there would have to be the task of assigning affiliations. Would they be based on the nearest AHL franchise or NHL franchise to latch onto the parent club's popularity? Would teams split affiliations?

And then players who aren't property of any NHL system would need to be figured into this. Many of the IHL and CHL teams are filled with unaffiliated players. What happens to them?

There is a lot that needs to be ironed out but I think it could (could) work.

The "I"HL could easily drop 3 teams (in my mind at least) and merge Fort Wayne (Comets), Kalamazoo (Wings), and Flint (Generals) into the ECHL. The CHL could be absorbed as a third "conference" and teams play within their conference until the playoffs (with a few regular season games out of conference).

Affiliations could be split, as teams have done in the past with the AHL. Any existing affiliations would be carried over (Bakersfield-Iowa-Anaheim for example), and any remaining teams could be grabbed by teams who currently don't have an affiliate, or share one. Players on those teams who are currently unaffiliated with an NHL club would simply be free agents, as they are now.

I'm not saying it would work, but it's definitely a good idea on paper.

This would actually be a pretty good idea for one of those realignment "concepts" that show up on the forum. Maybe I'll try and work it out if I have a chance.

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I think we're two or three seasons away from one AA-level league, with the ECHL, CHL and IHL merging into one.

Maybe something along the lines of the All Coast Hockey League (ACHL). It would take the 25 or 30 strongest franchises in the three leagues and combine them and provide affiliations for each team and make it a AA-level version of the AHL.

The last thing that AA-level minor-league hockey needs to do in order to stabilize itself is attempt to form a single, nationwide, 30-team circuit. The economics of such an arrangement barely make sense at the AHL's AAA-level. Franchises in the ECHL are slowly being killed-off economically by attempting to survive in such a continent-spanning set-up.

Rather, three geographically-regional AA-level leagues of ten teams each should be organized. They should all agree to play their own independent schedules throughout the regular season, only combining forces - perhaps - for a playoff between each circuits top few teams. Either that, or you launch a single entity with the understanding that teams in said league's three geographically-regional conferences never play outside their respective conferences during the regular season.

The latter shouldn't be too hard; the ECHL effectively operates as an Eastern League and a Western League during the regular season.

A lot would need to be worked out to make this successful.

The first issue would be just what the hell to do with the IHL. It doesn't really fit into either the ECHL or CHL's geographic footprint but has some profitable teams that should be included. That is, after all, where hockey is extremely popular.

Which teams to contract would also be an issue.

Then there would have to be the task of assigning affiliations. Would they be based on the nearest AHL franchise or NHL franchise to latch onto the parent club's popularity? Would teams split affiliations?

And then players who aren't property of any NHL system would need to be figured into this. Many of the IHL and CHL teams are filled with unaffiliated players. What happens to them?

There is a lot that needs to be ironed out but I think it could (could) work.

The "I"HL could easily drop 3 teams (in my mind at least) and merge Fort Wayne (Comets), Kalamazoo (Wings), and Flint (Generals) into the ECHL. The CHL could be absorbed as a third "conference" and teams play within their conference until the playoffs (with a few regular season games out of conference).

Affiliations could be split, as teams have done in the past with the AHL. Any existing affiliations would be carried over (Bakersfield-Iowa-Anaheim for example), and any remaining teams could be grabbed by teams who currently don't have an affiliate, or share one. Players on those teams who are currently unaffiliated with an NHL club would simply be free agents, as they are now.

I'm not saying it would work, but it's definitely a good idea on paper.

This would actually be a pretty good idea for one of those realignment "concepts" that show up on the forum. Maybe I'll try and work it out if I have a chance.

Trust me, if we're picking strong IHL teams, Flint wouldn't make the cut. They'd be the first team dropped.

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