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RowdyFan42

2017 Silly Season

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With both the new calendar year and the halfway point of the season (for most teams) upon us, rumors of what will happen in the offseason are starting to trickle in.  Here's what's been talked about so far:

  • Binghamton is moving to Belleville, ON for the 2017-18 season.  This is known.  What is not known is what comes next; supposedly the B-Sens have a provision in their lease that guarantees a replacement team will be found should the Sens leave before the lease is up.  The frontrunners at this time are Albany and Hartford; however, the Wolf Pack signed on to stay in Hartford through next season just last week, and the Devils extended their lease through 2018-19 back in April.  My opinion: Neither team moves, and the Senators either stick around for one more year or pay a hefty penalty to break their lease.
  • A rumor that just popped up out of left field on you-know-where is that should the Devils make the move down I-88, ECHL Wichita will move to Albany in their place.  Yeah, okay.  I'll believe it when I see it.
  • The new NHL team in Las Vegas will need an AHL affiliate eventually, right?  One idea I've seen floated is that Vegas will pair up with Chicago and allow someone else to grab the expansion AHL franchise; this makes sense to me because the Wolves enjoy a bit more control over their roster than your typical AHL club, and Vegas will likely appreciate having someone else handle their minor league operations for a couple years.  Another rumor I've seen is that someone, be it the Vegas owners or someone else, will put the expansion team in Reno, long rumored to be an ECHL market-in-waiting.

Anything else?  Thoughts?  Questions?  Violent objections?

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I wouldn't dismiss that "out of left field" rumor too quickly.  Wichita's attendance numbers have been very weak for several years, and they haven't been competitive for many seasons.  With The Steven Brothers owning three ECHL teams (Allen, Tulsa & Wichita), I doubt they can afford to fund all three teams for much longer.  So if there's a willing ownership group/community in Albany - or elsewhere up East - the WIC Thunder could be bought.  Maybe that way the ECHL can finally have just one team named "Thunder" and reduce the confusion.

As for the fallout of what looks like an inevitable Wolves-Golden Knights affiliation, the prevalent rumor in the Midwest since before Christmas has been that the St. Louis Blues will establish an AHL affiliate in Kansas City starting next season.  As much as the rumored parties to this affiliation have gone on record denying it - or at least dancing around it - I see it as a smoke-with-fire situation.  Blues ownership & the ECHL's MO Mavericks owner, Lamar Hunt Jr., signed a cooperative agreement this past fall to support development of youth hockey in both regions of Missouri; an NHL-AHL connection would be a logical extension (or a premeditated move).

Edited by JMC-STL

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Wichita's "weak" attendance numbers:

2014-15: 5007 (ECHL average was 4598)

2015-16: 4682 (4386)

16-17 (so far): 4585 (4007)

Their CHL numbers aren't "weak" either...

13-14: 5089 (ranked 2nd)

12-13: 5599 (1st)

11-12 6249 (2nd)

10-11: 5342 (3rd)

They remain in the top two back for another five seasons or so, where I stopped looking

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I guess I was wrong about Albany not moving to Binghamton.  I still don't think Wichita's replacing them, though.

It's starting to look like Vegas will indeed affiliate with the Wolves, but the 31st AHL franchise will remain non-existent for now.  It's not clear yet whether St.Louis will renew their current deal with the Wolves or if there will be some shuffling around and someone else will come in to split the Wolves with Vegas.

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This Kansas City rumor was hot a couple months ago.  But everyone is denying it now.  Which means it's either totally made up, or totally true but no one wants to confirm until later.  (That's helpful logic, right?)

http://www.kmov.com/story/33827728/report-blues-ahl-affiliation-to-move-to-kansas-city

(Edit, just realized JMC-STL mentioned the same rumor, I would agree this could be a smoke-with-fire situation as he puts it :). )

Edited by sotsohockey

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