While the ECHL staffs (at least many of them) are enjoying themselves in the 110+ degree heat of Las Vegas getting all educated and stuff, I thought today would be a good day to talk ECHL "silly season." You have to figure between the "Welcome Cocktail Reception" last night followed by a night on the town in Las Vegas it is safe to talk "silly season" without anyone noticing. Throw in the distraction of the NHL Awards which were handed out in Las Vegas last night and the official announcement yesterday that Las Vegas has been granted an NHL franchise, nobody is paying any attention back home. They are hungover and have to sit through the exciting first topic of the morning (9:00 am start) "Revenue: The Key To The Front Office Career" which is a perfect topic because in AA hockey every employee is a salesperson. On a more serious note the group will be hearing from ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna this morning and the ECHL awards presentation takes place just before lunch (1:40 pm Allen time). Fingers crossed the Allen group gets rewarded for a great season on and off the ice, under some difficult circumstances. UPDATE: Tommy Daniels was the winner of the ECHL Broadcaster of the Year Award.
- When you are an Allen Americans fan you can't talk silly season without harking back to the Central Hockey League (CHL) days when silly season was on steroids. The days of "my sources are better than your sources." Silly season rumors and discussions about which teams were bolting to the ECHL, going dark, folding, moving, changing ownership, and the survival of the league itself. Those were the days. Here is an old meme from the CHL silly season days.
- While the ECHL thankfully can't match the drama of the CHL, there are certainly some off season issues that can hold fan interest and create plenty of discussion. Here are just a few of them.
- Change of ownership of the Allen Americans has been a topic of conversation most of the past season and from what I have heard there is more than one group interested in buying the team. More importantly, the current owners are interested in selling the team. When you have willing buyers and a willing seller usually a deal gets done. My theory is this time of year creates a lot of pressure on the selling team to strike a deal. That is because it is a time of year where there are a lot of expenses and very little revenue. The majority of season ticket renewal revenue has already been booked. If season ticket holders haven't already renewed after another championship they will most likely not renew or wait until September. There is no longer the cost of housing or salaries for players unless they are hurt and there are always a lot of them. The team must provide worker's compensation until the injured players are cleared by the doctor. Some injured players stay in Texas for their rehabilitation and they are provided housing. Throw in all of the costs to get out of the apartments that are vacant, cost to send players home, cost to wind down the season along with the start up costs for next season, payments to vendors and the ECHL and it is a prefect storm to get the team sold. So I will go out on a limb and say the team gets sold and it will happen soon. When this happens everyone will be happy about new ownership but the next question will be what do the new owners bring to the table. It should be an interesting silly season.
- Another ownership issue that fits the silly season moniker popped up last week from Portland, Maine. Portland lost their AHL franchise in May (moving to Springfield, MA) and is trying to bring in an ECHL franchise for the 2017-18 season. What is interesting about the story is they talk about bringing an existing
ECHL franchise to Portland and the prospective team has already been
contacted and a price has been worked out. There was speculation the
team was Evansville/Owensboro but the owner denied the team is being
sold. Why an existing team rather than an expansion franchise? According to the story an expansion franchise would cost $750,000 and they can buy an existing franchise for less. The following is the story from the Portland Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/talks-progressing-on-bringing-new-hockey-team-to-cia/
- It has certainly been an active off season when it comes to coaching changes in the ECHL. With the announcement this week that South Carolina coach, Spencer Carbery, is moving on to become coach of the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League that makes a total of seven coaching changes this silly season (Elmira, Florida, Missouri, Norfolk, South Carolina, Toledo, & Wichita). This list doesn't include Wheeling where the coach (David Gove) took a leave of absence and missed the last three rounds of the playoffs. The Norfolk (Rod Aldoff) and Wichita (Malcolm Cameron) jobs have been filled but the others are still looking for coaches and it is in the middle of recruitment season. Should be a lot of new coaches hired in the next couple of weeks.
- The ECHL sure does a good job of identifying coaches on the move with their Coach of the Year selections. The last three ECHL Coach of the Year winners have new jobs this month. Richard Matvichuk (Missouri Mavricks) won the award this year and was selected as coach of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. Derek Lalonde (Toledo Walleye) was coach of the Year in the ECHL in 2015 and was just selected as coach of the Iowa Wild (AHL). Spencer Carbery (South Carolina Stingrays) was Coach of the Year in 2014 and is headed to Saginaw.
- The silly season always sees an exodus of players heading overseas and this off season is no exception. There have already been close to 50 players signed to play overseas and there are plenty more to come. The league is losing some top notch players including the leading scorer for Cincinnati (Jack Downing), leading goal scorer for Utah (Barry Almeida), the top goalie in the league and MVP runner-up (Josh Robinson). Robinson was 28-2 for the Missouri Mavericks with a GAA of 1.88. Jesse Root of the Mavericks, who finished third in the MVP balloting is also headed overseas. Others include Maxim Kitsyn who was the leading scorer for the Manchester Monarchs and Colorado Eagle all-star defenseman Collin Bowman. For the Allen Americans, only Jordan Rowley has been announced as heading to Europe to play in Sweden but several other players have offers they are considering so in all likelihood the Allen list will grow.
- Still haven't heard anything about the ECHL Board of Governors (BOG) meeting that took place earlier this week. I did see at indypuck.com that there is a proposal to expand the reserve list from two to three players and allow teams to sign a third goaltender to a two way contract, presumably sharing that goaltender with a SPHL team. Would expect the ECHL will issue a press release to announce any decisions made at the BOG meeting.
DID YOU KNOW: Richard Matvihuk won the ECHL Coach of the Year (John Brophy Award) this season, Spencer Carbery finished second and Derek Lalonde finished third. That is a lot of coaching talent moving onwards and upwards.