Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Allen Americans and CHL Update - A Blogger's View

- Not much else being discussed about hockey other than what is about to happen with the CHL & ECHL. Have been getting a lot of questions since tweeting on Monday that something was in the works about what I think will happen.  Now that it is a forgone conclusion that the two leagues will become one as soon as today thought it is time to exercise the blogger prerogative to speculate on some of the details. Most readers of this blog realize there is no connection between the blog and the Allen Americans but want to emphasize how tight lipped the front office of the Americans has been around this issue as they will not confirm or deny anything related to the ECHL. However, the avid fans and bloggers around the league are an industrious group who share a lot of information with one another. So put this in the rumor, speculate, guess, conjecture, assumption category with educated in front of each word.

- The deal was supposedly done yesterday and just the final details are being worked out. Kind of like when you close on a new house and you are just waiting on the money to get transferred. You can only imagine all of the details related to an action like this. The business side/off ice issues are the biggies though most are talking about the on ice issues which are of more interest to fans. Best case scenario is an announcement is made today but that is not certain.

- Best guess is all of the current CHL teams go to the ECHL and maybe even one of the teams that suspended operations. 

- The CHL teams will be playing in the ECHL for the upcoming season inspite of the short time frames. And short time frames are right around the corner. Everything will be moved up by a week or more. Here are the ECHL critical dates:
October 2 - Players may report to training camp (training camp rosters due 3 pm ET)
October 3 - First day of on ice sessions
October 15 - Opening day rosters due (3 pm ET)
October 17 - ECHL regular season begins

- While many are speculating how the schedule will look the best guess is there will be many more changes than people are anticipating. The new schedule will look much more like a redone schedule than merely inserting the CHL schedule into the ECHL schedule. Might be some new places for the Allen Americans to visit.

- The rules that will be followed will be the ECHL rules so not a lot of  interim/transition rules. The ECHL has gone through this process in the past with other leagues and the general rule in the past has been you will follow ECHL rules with no exceptions. It might be different this time but probably not. Remember the CHL allows six vets and define a vet as over 300 professional games while the ECHL is four veterans and 260 games. This will most likely cause some roster changes and some veteran players that are being recruited under the CHL rules will not be signed.

- In all likelihood the rights to CHL players from the team's protected list will be lost. The only way to get these players back (if they have signed in the ECHL) would be through trade or waivers. Would assume those that are in Europe will become free agents but not sure on this. As a reminder, those on the protected list for Allen are:
Spencer Asuchak
Greger Hanson
Trevor Hendrikx
Kale Kerbashian
Garrett Klotz
Alex Lavoie
Bryan Pitton
Ross Rouleau

- Roster size and salary caps are very similar between the leagues especially with the changes the CHL was planning for the upcoming season but there are differences. The ECHL active roster can be 21 for the first 30 days of the season and then drops to 20. This compares to the CHL which this year was going to have an active roster size of 19. These numbers do not include injured reserve players.

- The CHL salary cap was going to be $12,000 per week this year while the ECHL salary cap for 2014-2015 is $12,615 for the first 30 days of the season (because of the one extra roster spot) and then drops to $12,200.

- Not positive on this one but the rookie salary cap (maximum you can pay a rookie) is $550 in the CHL and only $510 in the ECHL so all of the rookies already signed in the CHL will be taking a small salary cut.

- As for season ticket holders the best solution for what will be three additional home games (the CHL has a 66 game schedule while the ECHL plays 72 games) is to allow them to buy those games on a game by game basis at their season ticket price. This may be a team by team decision.

- Many other logistics will have to be accelerated. First and foremost will be notifying the players about the new schedule but think of the reworked travel schedules, new insurance, apartments need to be ready earlier, immigration papers for Canadian residents will have to be filed just to name a few. It can all get done but will take a lot of extra work by front offices, coaches, and fan clubs to make the transition happen smoothly.

- The ECHL has had an agreement with CCM (a subsidiary of Reebok)  for many years to provide all on ice equipment (sticks, visors, helmets, gloves and trousers) and last year became the exclusive provider of home and away jerseys for the ECHL. If this agreement continues this is another area of change for the CHL teams.

- The Allen Americans are so fortunate they have Steve Martinson as their coach through this transition as his eighteen years of head coaching experience (which  includes eight championships) will be put to the test. Martinson has coached in the CHL and ECHL and was also the head coach of the San Diego Gulls back in 2003 when the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) was absorbed by the ECHL. The first year in the ECHL Martinson coached the Gulls to a record of 49-13-0-10 which may still be a record for first year teams in the ECHL. Bottom line is there is not a better coach in the country with the experience to deal with what the Americans are about to go through.   

- Was talking with a corporate sponsor yesterday and they are excited about a potential move to the ECHL as they feel their sponsorship dollars will become more valuable in a league that is more visible and prestigious. When this deal is announced they feel their sponsorship deal will be worth more money without having to spend an extra dollar.

- Can't help but think about the last five years and all of the effort owner Doug Miller put into getting the team to the ECHL. This blog was a big advocate of that move in the early years. But it is time to think about what was wished for now that it is about to become a realty. The CHL has been very good to the fans in Allen as the team has won two championships the last two years and lost in the finals in their first year in the league. Add two Governor's Cups as regular season champions and it has been quite a ride. It is going to be much more difficult going into a league with close to 30 teams. Some of the CHL fans are going to be longing for the good old days of the CHL when their teams are mired in the bottom part of the ECHL standings in out of the playoffs spots. Expectations may have to be lowered, however, Steve Martinson will not be one of those lowering expectations.


- It is now official that Phil Fox has been selected for a job at Northern Michigan University. Talked to him recently and he has been back in Michigan for a couple of weeks. In addition to his job he will also be working on his masters degree. Here is the press release announcing his hiring:
"A former NMU hockey captain is returning to Marquette to work as the program’s hockey operations manager. Phil Fox played for the Wildcats from 2007 to 2011 and served as a captain for three of his four years. He’s 21st all-time in career games played for NMU with 155. Fox was a forward and notched 40 goals and 20 assists in his college career. After graduating from NMU, he played professionally in the Central Hockey League for three seasons and also played one game with the Houston Aeros of the AHL."

- Former Allen Americans player Jim McKenzie has signed with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and will go to camp with Oklahoma City (AHL). Jim split last season with the Quad City Mallards and the Iowa Wild (AHL). Jim joins Jonathan Lessard who has also signed with Bakersfield.

- The Americans have a new equipment manager and trainer on board and the names will be familiar to fans in the area. A news release from the team with all of the details will be issued soon.

- Noticed while doing the "30 Questions Series" the current roster of Allen American's players has some talented individuals. Haven't gone through the entire roster yet but some top notch students are on the team. Aaron Gens graduated with honors, Brian McMillin, Andrew Hamburg, and John Ryder were all on the NCAA (WCHA) all-academic team for multiple years in college, and Raphael Girard is a Harvard grad. And I am sure there are more.

- Heard that Knight Furniture will again be sponsoring a replica Presidents' Cup banner give away as they did last year on banner raising night. Unless the date changes the banner raising is scheduled for October 24th.


  1. Hmmm, be careful what you wish for.....we'll see. I am confident with Steve Martinson's leadership that Allen will do well with the transition and God knows, he knows the style and level of play that will be needed to be successful. All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed, say our prayers, and root our guys on. Thanks for your "educated" speculation, but it sounds pretty factual from what I am hearing. See you soon :)

  2. Has any math been done on the signed players to determine vet impact with the lower number?