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Komets

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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Colin Chaulk holds up the IHL Turner Cup after the Komets beat Flint in the finals. The Komets are trying to save the IHL but may be forced to join another league such as the Central Hockey League.
Komets future

New league possible if IHL fails

The Komets’ fans and players are awaiting news on what league their team will skate in next season.

“There’s nothing new today,” Komets president Michael Franke said Monday, “but I’m hoping by the end or the middle of this week, we’ll have some (plans). We’re just continuing the process.”

That process includes trying to salvage the IHL, in which the Komets recently won their third straight playoff championship. If the IHL doesn’t find new ownership for the Flint Generals, or find an expansion team to fill the sixth spot, the team will try to join either the ECHL or the Central Hockey League.

Here’s a look at the Komets’ prospective leagues:

International Hockey League

Overview: Reincarnated in 2007, it aims to be a Midwest bus league that keeps operational costs down. The IHL promotes physical hockey, and aims to have a mix of young prospects and experienced veterans. The Komets have won all three playoff championships.

Teams: Six, though Flint’s future is in doubt.

Schedule: Going from 76 to 70 games

Salary cap: $13,000 per week

Roster size: 20, with 19-player lineups

Veteran rules: Maximum of eight can play. A veteran began season with 300 or more games.

Rookie rules: Minimum of four must play. Rookies have played in 60 or fewer games.

Why it would be good for Komets: The IHL has proved fertile ground for championships. Staying in the IHL would preserve at least one rivalry, with Port Huron, and allow fans to go to nearby road games. This is the most cost-effective league for ownership.

Why it would be bad for Komets: The IHL always seems to be on shaky ground financially, and the losses of Kalamazoo and Muskegon have robbed Fort Wayne of its two biggest rivals. Some fans are tired of seeing the same opponents every week.

ECHL

Overview: Formerly the East Coast Hockey League, it changed its name to ECHL in 2003 to maintain its brand but reflect its presence as a national entity. Its membership spans from Estero, Fla., to Anchorage, Alaska, and it’s regarded as the premier AA league because of strong affiliations with the NHL.

Teams: 20 last season

Schedule: 72 games

Salary cap: $11,800 per week

Roster size: 20, with 18-player lineups

Veteran rules: Maximum of four can be played. A veteran began season with at least 260 games.

Rookie rules: A rookie began season with fewer than 25 games. There is no minimum on how many must be played.

Why it would be good for Komets: With strong ties to the NHL, the Komets might see more NHL prospects than before. There would be an infusion of young, ambitious players, and there would be faster skaters. Fans wouldn’t be watching the same five opponents all the time, and geographical rivalries with Kalamazoo, Toledo and Cincinnati would be reincarnated.

Why it would be bad for Komets: They would be unable to keep some popular, older players from the current team. The team won’t like seeing its stars called-up midseason. Travel costs will be higher than in the IHL, making things tougher for ownership.

Central Hockey League

Overview: Heading into its 19th season, the CHL encompasses teams as southward as Hidalgo, Texas, and northward as Rapid City, S.D. In 2001, the CHL absorbed the Western Professional Hockey League. With a caliber of play much like the IHL, the CHL has also seen financial troubles, even after the players unionized in 2008.

Teams: 15 last season, though two have dropped out

Schedule: 64 games

Salary cap: $10,450 per week

Roster size: 19, with 18-player lineups

Veteran rules: Maximum of four can be played. A veteran began season with at least 301 games.

Rookie rules: Need four “developmental players” with fewer than 120 games played.

Why it would be good for Komets: The Komets are accustomed to putting together a winner in this type of league. Though they’d have to trim some of their veteran core, they could maintain enough to be competitive again. There would be new opponents for the fans to see.

Why it would be bad for Komets: This could affect ownership’s bottom line in a number of ways: Travel costs would go up, even if an entire IHL division is brought; and there would be fewer games played at home to balance that out. There would be a lack of familiarity with opposing teams.

jcohn@jg.net

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