CH1L Not So Fast Sources Say

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CH1L, not so fast sources say

The rumor of the CHL adding, or going the junior hockey route has been swirling for nearly two years. The idea of a competing "Tier 1" type league in the United States operating under the Central Hockey League umbrella or within its development model under Amateur Athletic Union sanctioning may still be only a rumor.

Sources within the CHL have informed TJHN today that no discussions have taken place concerning junior hockey and AAU, and that nothing is concrete for a junior league. Such a move would require an ownership vote and lease amendments that have not taken place. Multiple CHL sources have also stated that they are intent on expanding their AA level pro hockey product.

One CHL source specifically stated that they would look at any idea to expand hockey in the United States, but that they do not have any plans for junior hockey at this time. This official did state they had been approached with an idea to add junior hockey from an outside source, but that nothing has been acted upon.

Recently a name of CH1L was promoted on another website, the domain name of www.ch1l.com has not been registered as of thursday morning, and an email address hosted by google is not an official address for any CHL person according to league employees.

The CHL is struggling with defections over recent years to junior hockey as well as to the ECHL, there have also been losses due to financial hardship of some franchises. This however does not mean that the CHL is looking to abandon their pro hockey business for junior hockey.

Examining the CHL and this idea, it would make some financial sense to make a change to junior hockey. However, the savings would be minimal at best.

Junior hockey requires a much larger marketing effort, meaning more staff. Advertisers will not pay the same amount for junior hockey exposure as they will for pro hockey exposure. Income reduction is also a part of the business equation when looking at lower gate receipts. Teams can not charge as much for the junior product as they do for pro hockey based upon perceived value. If you couple the loss on average ticket with a reduced attendance number, the savings at the "Tier 1" level when compared to AA pro are minimal at best.

Rumor of a "stipend" or "living expense" being given to players would be a direct violation of NCAA rules and standards. Any suggestion that this would be approved by the NCAA is an improper suggestion at best according to an NCAA compliance officer reached yesterday.

Renegotiating leases within the CHL will prove to be no easy task. Several arena leases specifically state that pro hockey must be the tenant. Trying to renegotiate that term could be considered a lease violation in itself, not to mention would open the door for any ECHL ownership that may consider those markets.

Reduced expenses in player payroll and workmans comp may be attractive to some owners, however, examining the facts will prove that with reduced income and increased staff, the costs savings will likely only be in the ten percent range.

Speaking to one CHL owner, the concept of junior hockey is not an option for his company in his market. This owner clearly stated he would leave the league before making such a move and implied other owners would do the same. To date there has been no ownership vote on such a concept.

Considering many of the CHL officials, players and staff members are associated with, or work with USA Hockey, and defection from those relationships to AAU would have an effect on the pro hockey league, this would not be something anyone in the CHL would want.

In theory a league such as this sounds interesting, in practice, there is too much to do in too little time. The idea of dividing league resources between junior management and pro management would be a resource drain on the CHL. Theory in hockey, unless you are talking about an on ice system, rarely works in business practice. This theory is best left as theory.

Kevin Kelly

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