WSHL Teams Switch to USPHL

Discussion in 'All other USA Amateur, USHL, NAHL, USNTDP etc.' started by mk80, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. mk80 Registered User

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    The WSHL had a couple mid season folds this season, and now the USPHL has ate a large chunk of it's teams.

    United States Premier Hockey League Adds Eight New West Coast Member Organizations

    The WSHL is now left with teams in:

    El Paso Rhinos, Dallas Snipers, OKC Blazers, Wichita Jr. Thunder, Ogden Mustangs (Utah), Seattle Totems , Bellingham Blazers (WA), Valencia Flyers (CA) and it's Canadian Division of the Edson Aeros, Cold Lake Hornets, Barhead Bombers, and Hilton Timberwolves.

    This is a disastrous development for the WSHL losing such a large chunk of it's footprint that could spell it's end. I could definitely see the remaining teams folding or leaving as well. For example Valencia is now on an island, I could see El Paso going to the NAHL if they would want to and if the league would accept them (other than having a 9 team South division) I think they would as the Rhinos are very successful in terms of level of play and attendance. Ogden is on an island as well now and not within the current NAHL footprint as El Paso is, but are also one of the more successful teams in terms of attendance, so they are left in a bad spot with this development.
     
  2. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    And the big evil giant of American junior hockey adds more to the fold. With only 8 American teams left, and most of them very isolated, I would be surprised to see the WSHL this autumn.

    El Paso has the facilities to to jump to the NAHL, but the NAHL has steadily grown more careful of who they let in. The league knows more than 3-4 months are needed to prepare for a season. The last attendance averages I could find was in the 1500 range. Wichita Falls Wildcats were unsustainably unprofitable and folded with better attendance than that. The organization would have to find a way to go from charging many thousand dollars in player tuition to relying only on that fan revenue as well as affording an increasingly expensive expansion franchise. I don't think it happens, at least for next season. Team camps, which many NA teams rely heavily on, bring in can bring in close to six figures in revenue and El Paso wouldn't have much time to set them up.

    Valancia is now a 10 hour bus trip from their closest opponent. They're likely done. Wichita, OKC, and Dallas are within the NA3HL footprint, and that would be their best option for survival despite the savage war that's been waged between the NA3HL/USA Hockey and WSHL/AAU. The northern pacific teams are also on an island, perhaps they could find a Canadian Junior B league to join like the KIJHL. The Canadian teams should be Canadian Junior B to begin with, they only exist because the AJHL wouldn't allow them to join.
     
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  3. mk80 Registered User

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    Unless the WSHL comes up with a slew of FPHL style expansion teams to fill the gaps, and they are all successful I think it would be hard to imagine them giving it a go next season. The one thing I left out in my speculation/ vague predictions is that maybe the USPHL just ends up eatsing the remaining WSHL teams all together. I do think El Paso could be a sustainable franchise in the NAHL even if they were to make a late entry this off season, and their ticket prices and attendance figures are in line with many of the South Division teams, and they fit that division's footprint extremely well. I think they also own their arena which helps too, but I could be wrong about that. But you do bring up a good point about losing the pay to play model, however the NAHL teams make that up with the camps they hold over the summer.
     
  4. Nathan Johannsen Registered User

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    Can't imagine we'll see much expansion at all, both in the WSHL and all pay-to-play leagues. It's a tough enough business as it is and the current climate likely won't make any (smart) investor want to enter into an already oversaturated market.

    Will be curious to see what the teams in the PNW do. Talk about a wild few years for pay-to-play junior hockey in that region.

    Also, just for a point of clarity, I believe Valencia already announced well prior to this that they will be folding or ceasing operations in some capacity, but I might be mistaken.

    And lastly, in terms of the WSHL, good riddance. Was never a fan of their 'Tier II' charade.

     
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  5. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    I know the WSHL recruits heavily from teams here in Northern Europe to play in North America for a few years and many of the rosters are predominantly Europeans. I believe they could have the capability to fill teams out with recruits if they could find operators.

    For El Paso, they could be successful. I know there is a large American military base near there that they draw from, not dissimilar to Watertown, NY, Columbus, GA and I'm sure many others. What is the latest date the NAHL has approved an expansion team? It has recently been February at the latest. It is a big step up in terms of operations from WSHL to NAHL. If they had more time, I have no doubts they could do it.

    The result may be that they join the USPHL because there are no other options. You are in better position than I am with your NA3 connections to know if that league is an option for the WSHL leftovers. A lot would have to change to smooth over the mutually antagonistic relationship between the two governing bodies for that to happen, but it might be better than non-existent.
     
  6. mk80 Registered User

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    Ah I hadn't heard that. Thanks for the clarification!

    Yeah the WSHL has never subscribed to the limits on international players that USA Hockey affiliated leagues like the NAHL, and NA3 so if any teams made the jump to either they would have to change the makeup of their rosters. There would be some bridges to build for sure if any can or want to make the jump. I'm not sure what the deadline is for expansion, but you're right in that new teams are usually announced a year prior (Wichita Falls announced in October 2019, New Mexico and Maine last year were both in February). But who knows if a deadline could be waived in the case of any WSHL transitioning since they are already established teams, or maybe they have already submitted proposals ahead of time and made the deadlines. Right now the only changes to the NA3 landscape that I've heard of is the old Evansville franchise being reactivated in Oregon, Wisconsin as the Oregon Tradesmen and the Elmira Jr. Eagles moving to Massachusetts to become the Bay State Bobcats, of those two moves I only knew about the Oregon one in advance of it happening.

    Also after reading the press release again I think it's important to share this sentence of it:
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
  7. JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    With the prevailing uncertainty in sports scheduling for next season, April-May-June could well be the January-February-March of previous seasons.
     
  8. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Very very true. On a not serious note, I already forgot what day of the week it is. Maybe they can convince the NAHL that December?

    I don’t think anyone could have predicated move to Holyoke, and if you heard it I doubt you would have believed it. A tiny state-owned rink, 10 minutes from a USPHL organization, the Springfield Pics.

    Good catch, I did not see that!
     
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  9. BOS358 Registered User

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    Ah, USPHL Western expansion version 2.0. I have "great" memories of the first round of Western expansion, and while I'd say that this one can only be better than the last, I'm sure there will be a way to make it worse...with the obvious caveat that we might not even see a 2020-21 season at all.

    What was that definition of insanity again?
     
  10. kij Registered User

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    I can speak to the El Paso situation in that they also own their bus and have multiple drivers on staff. They did everything they could to drive down costs. A darker side to the Rhinos and Coach Herman is that he brings an absurd amount (45+) of players into town at the start of every season to sell off the weaker players across the league. Many of the Europeans don't have much of a choice having already missed a month of their seasons back home so they go, this allows him to collect thousands of dollars per player and then sells them to a team desperate for bodies. That is not a game he can play in the NAHL. While I have no doubt his coaching and recruiting skills could translate over along with the facility and amenities he provides are likely to be better than most of the NAHL. It probably could work, but there would probably be a need to also buy an NA3 team to help cover costs.

    Other than El Paso, the rest of the WSHL is probably taking a long look into joining the USPHL with their former opponents. Otherwise, this may lead to the decimation of both groups with each side lacking solid travel partners although many teams in the WSHL have been open to spending nearly a full day on the road to play games. I know El Paso would do a California swing annually back in the day.
     
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  11. Drake88 Registered User

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    All of this team movement (and being stuck in the house with nothing else to do) got me thinking, what if USA hockey stepped in and re-organized the tier 3 landscape? Although this probably is not possible due to the different governing bodies among all the leagues, doing something like creating three geographically based (West, Central, East) leagues does seem to have some obvious benefits. Off the top of my head, reduced travel, less players leaving home at young ages to play tier 3 which should not be a destination, uniform set of rules and franchise expectations and full rosters for each team. Not to mention stronger franchises and higher quality of play should lead to more call ups to higher levels and college opportunities whether that be NCAA/ACHA, all things that you would think USA hockey would support.

    So what if the U.S. tier 3 landscape looked something like this? Obviously unlikely, but for this exercise basically imagined that all tier 3 teams were 'free agents'. Tried to model things after the Canadian major junior system and envisioned a Memorial Cup type tournament at the end of the year. This would see the landscape reduced by about 70 teams. I am not too familiar with the east coast leagues and the strength of their franchises, but gave it a shot. Could not decided whether to go with 24, 28 or 32 teams but went with 32 for this exercise. The new 'WSHL' being the only league falling short at 27 teams.

    I obviously know something like this is highly unlikely to happen but just curious to hear some thoughts on why something like this could or could not work or whether I should move some teams in/out to make these 'new leagues' stronger.

    upload_2020-4-18_17-41-32.png
     
  12. mk80 Registered User

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    I'm overly optimistic the virus won't be at a point where next season would have to be pushed back, but I know it already has delayed the NAHL draft and handful of the camps that NAHL teams had scheduled in May, which are a big revenue source for them during the summer. So it's not out of the realm of possibility there could be a late start to the season.

    If the team was to make that move, you're right that's not something they could do, they would have to at least switch to the tryout camp model. Having only seen the Rhinos' bus from the outside there's no telling it would be on par and better than a lot of pro teams even.
     
  13. kij Registered User

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    While I appreciate the optimism, I honestly don't anticipate us having a fall semester in schools or any athletic seasons until 2021.

    I received videos and pictures from inside the Rhino's bus years back. Couches, beds, TVs, gaming consoles, the whole 9 yards.
     
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  14. kij Registered User

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    Ogden is no longer listed on the WSHL website. I hate to see it but this little rebel league that could, may have just received the death blow. They maintain a single strong division in the south and the Canadian division still stands tall without many other options but a league as spread out like that without anything in between while also potentially losing their connection and logical reasoning to holding the showcase in Vegas in the Vegas team jumping ship. I know the USPHL would kill for that south division if they could get it, throwing them directly into the NA3 south footprint and setting up yet another turf war. Something has to give eventually, right?
     
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  15. mk80 Registered User

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    Not looking good either way for the WSHL, Ogden was arguably one of the strongest teams in that league.
     
  16. bigdog16 Registered User

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    Way too big of a disparity in talent there. Every night your getting at least a couple double digit blowouts. Id be on board with USA Hockey putting together this format at 1/3 of the size. The product is so watered down nowadays there are high school teams that could beat half these teams.

    If you arent playing in the NCDC or NAHL, you are truly wasting your money.
     
  17. mk80 Registered User

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    Here is the official word from the WSHL:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    On one hand, this gives Eugene a chance to walk in the back door.

    On that ever so slightly important other hand, unless the remaining WSHL teams bail, it doesn’t improve reality for any of these teams.

    The real problem, though, is what’s on the 3rd hand. Colorado just joined the pact with Washington, Oregon, and California regarding Coronavirus actions. The lesson learned out west is that proactivity worked (Colorado didn’t really learn that, but joining this gives a chance that they’ll get it). I’ll put it this way... don’t hold your breath for 20-21.
     
  19. Nathan Johannsen Registered User

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    Eugene was already in a nearly impossible situation to navigate, but this was perhaps the final death blow to any realistic shot of returning for a 2020-21 season.

    I wouldn't give any real thought to a Eugene franchise joining the WSHL (if that league even continues to exist), at least as long as it continues to be non-USA Hockey. Granted, the WSHL's only (smart?) option left might be to get back under the USA Hockey umbrella and work with them to refortify junior hockey on the West Coast - particularly in CA as more rinks come online and as the game keeps growing down there - as a means of 'containment' against the USPHL's westward expansion. That's a whole other discussion though, and a fascinating one at that.

    For Eugene though, I just don't see how anything works for them UNLESS the USPHL's westward expansion has scared people in the NAHL/USA Hockey so much that they bend over backwards to get Eugene online, whether that be as a NAHL team (unlikely) with 1-2 other PNW teams grouping with the Alaska teams, or maybe an NA3HL team for a year or two in the Frontier Division. Come to think of it, that might also be the only way for programs like the WSHL's Bellingham or Seattle to continue operations.
     
  20. JDogindy Jerk

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    All I know is that we're going to be seeing a whole lot of Struggle Bus shit coming out of this league if they try to make something happen with a few propped up expansion franchises.
     
  21. PCSPounder Stadium Groupie

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    Eugene didn’t leave the USPHL in disgust. They left only due to lack of other teams joining at the time... while they were persona non grata with the WSHL.

    Now that the WSHL is losing its grip, if at all possible, Eugene has at least one team it can pair with to try to make a go back in the USPHL.

    Of course, without the Puget Sound teams and without a more stable business environment, there are problems to overcome.

    The 3 is a non-starter for Eugene.

    Eugene has made NAHL noises (that’s s part of the gist of the Eugene Upgrades thread), but I strongly suspect the current situation undermines that for several years... giving UO a leg up if they decide to bring college hockey to Eugene. And if UO goes first, that’s pretty much it. But what do college athletics look like in four years?
     
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  22. Nathan Johannsen Registered User

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    Ahhh my mistake, totally misread that and assumed you were talking about joining what's left of the WSHL, not re-joining the USPHL. My apologies there.

    In terms of the USPHL, I still have a tough time seeing that, but that's more of a hunch than anything really concrete. I just don't see them going back under a non-USA Hockey entity, but desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose, so who knows.

    In terms of the NA3HL, the more I think about it, I think you're right, too. Bit wishful thinking on my part. Without expansion, that's basically an untenable situation due to travel, which I believe is why that whole division split off from NORPAC in the first place. Was just trying to conjure up some sort of semi-realistic possibility here, but basically none of those exist at this point.

    Any who, interesting times ahead for juniors in the PNW, and looking further ahead, the entire West Coast potentially. Curious to see what other dominos fall between now and next season, with the obvious caveat looming regarding the major question mark that is next season.
     
  23. mk80 Registered User

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    If Illinois announcing they're postponing adding NCAA hockey, I would think anyone else is also going to push that off until the books recover a bit.

    Edit: I stand corrected that LIU in New York just announced D1 men's hockey.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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