FORT WAYNE – Komets president Michael Franke knows what people are going to say. He can almost hear them saying it.
People will say, Why play 66 games to eliminate two teams?’ he says.
The 66 games he refers to will be the number of games played in the regular season in the reconstituted Central Hockey League next season, which was announced Wednesday. Also announced was the playoff format, which will include two best-of-five rounds, a best-of-seven conference finals and best-of-seven finals.
Sixteen of the 18 teams will make playoffs – which means that, yes, they’ll play 66 games to eliminate two teams.
There is, Franke says, a logical explanation for this.
The thought process is the way the economy is going right now, it probably would make sense if all the teams coming into those last six weeks of the season had an opportunity to make the playoffs, he said. There are so many other things people can do right now, and if teams are way out of it in late January, are they going to continue to come to the games?
No. 2, we looked at it from the perspective that we believe the league is going to grow the next two or three years and be more than 18 teams. So why not institute a 16-team format now, rather than switch it around every year?
The other reason to go with 16 teams, Franke says, is to avoid first-round byes and best-of-three first-round series.
I think both leagues wanted to get away from that, he said.
The 66-game regular season, on the other hand, essentially if not mathematically splits the difference between the old 64-game CHL schedule, and the 70-game schedule originally proposed for next season in the IHL.
Of those 66 games, the Komets will play 36 at home; the three extra home games will be against Evansville, which will be playing all its home games in tiny Swonder Arena this year while awaiting construction of a new, permanent arena.
It’s a chance to bring up their potential new sponsors just to get a feel for what their new building will be like, because their new building will be very similar to (Memorial) Coliseum, Franke says.