Just read this from my esteemed colleague Justin Cohn, who has been all over the emerging seismic shift in AA hockey this week like Velcro on duct tape.
From a distance, I have to say this: It's much ado about very little at the moment.
With both the IHL and CHL seemingly loathe to surrender any autonomy -- or so it seems to me with all this "it's not a merger, it's an affiliation" talk -- I don't really understand how very much would change. Affiliation: What's that mean, exactly? Or does it just mean business as usual, only with an extra playoff series?
That's the way it looks to me at the moment. As I understand it, the two leagues would continue to function pretty much indepedently except in the finals, when the champions of each league would play each other. Which means it would still be the same six teams playing each other 100 times a winter in the "I." From a fan's perspective, nothing whatsoever would change.
Now, I get that an affiliation would probably mean a pooling of resources to some extent, which would hopefully mean more economic stability across the board. And I get that no one wants to pay the travel costs that a full merger would entail; I doubt there's an owner in the IHL who wants to making the trek to play some of the Texas-based CHL teams. Or vice versa.
But aside from that, I can't see that an "affiliation" means very much in the way of moving the product forward. What's the point, ultimately?
Here's hoping there is one -- as there was when the NFL and AFL reached an agreement to play the Super Bowl as a precursor to a full merger.