IceHL 2016: How Will Contraction Work?

A couple weeks ago I announced the shake-ups coming to the IceHL this summer. Now it's time to explain the details about how the Contraction process will work.

Contraction will be a quick and painless process — like ripping off a band-aid. The first polls open Sunday and within two weeks, we'll be finished. There will be 14 teams protected from contraction, meaning 30 teams will be eligible. Four will be selected to suspend operations.

Protected Franchises

Two criteria were used to determine the teams that will be ineligible for contraction. First, any team that has won an IceHL championship is safe (Huskies, Colonials, Beasts, Kodiaks, Lynx, Royal HC, Mammoths, Nighthawks, and Scorpions). Second, any team currently managed by a GM who joined during our inaugural fantasy season, 2010-11, is safe (Wave, Archers, Sentinels, and Winterhawks). The goal here is to help protect the rosters of our longest-serving GMs.

Those criteria only account for 13 teams but, as IceHL Commissioner, I've also taken the liberty of protecting the Milwaukee Lagers, the only IceHL team for which an actual jersey was produced and made available for purchase by IceHL fans.

The teams depicted above will not be included in the voting process for IceHL contraction.

Eligible Franchises

The protection criteria leaves us with 30 IceHL teams that will be eligible for contraction — 10 from each of the three conferences, as it turns out. The graphics below depict the teams that will be included in the contraction voting process.

Continue reading for details on the voting process.

Contraction Voting Process

As previously announced, the voting will not take long, lasting just two weeks beginning Sun., June 5. By Sat., June 18 we will declare the 4 contracted teams.

The community will cast votes in two rounds of polls. The first round will consist of three multiple choice polls — one per conference. Voters will be able to choose up to 3 teams from the 10 listed in each poll. The 3 teams receiving the most votes in each conference will advance to the second round. Voting results will be visible while the polls are open.

The second round will consist of a single multiple choice poll. Again, voters will be able to choose up to 3 teams from the 9 listed. The 3 teams receiving the most votes will immediately suspend operations. Voting results will not be visible while the polls are open so as to keep the June 18 announcement a surprise.

The fourth and final team to be contracted will be decided by the members of the IceHL Design Council. Their decision will be subject to a community veto requiring a 60% majority. In the event of a veto, the team with the 4th-most votes in the second round poll will be contracted.

For what it's worth, this vote will be one of the final decisions of the current Design Council, which was elected in late 2014. A new Council will be elected by the community this fall. Until then, Matt, Colin, Will, and John will continue to help guide our rebranding efforts this summer. More to come on that soon.

This voting process outlined above was designed to allow for the possibility that all 4 contracted teams could come from the same conference or be spread out among all three.

One final note: Should the IceHL ever seek to re-expand beyond 40 teams in the future, we will first consider reactivating the teams that were contracted this summer.

Rebranding Process

Following the announcement of the contracted teams, we'll begin the process of rebranding 2 to 4 existing teams — because it's not really summer without an IceHL design contest!

The list of protected teams here will be much longer because the criteria will include teams that have undergone rebranding in the past as well as any teams created within the last two years. Obviously we won't have solid numbers on those groups until after the 4 contracted teams are removed from the equation. But I am expecting 8 to 12 teams to be eligible for rebranding.

More details will be announced as we get closer to launch time. As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask by email or comment.

IceHL 2016: Contraction & Rebranding

It's not really summertime until there's an IceHL shake-up. So let it begin!

There's good news and bad news this offseason. I'll start with the bad news. I recently informed the league's 44 GMs that the IceHL will shrink for the first time since its creation in 2008 as we undergo contraction for the first time. On the other hand, the good news is that two to four of our remaining teams will be rebranded — which means more design contests! Details follow.


Four teams will suspend operations this summer. I know it sounds like a setback given our plan to expand to 16 teams in the IceHL World. But the league will be better for this in the long run. Currently, the IceHL is suffering from its own increasing bulk. The ever-growing league has become overwhelming to manage. Plus, the more teams we add, the less unique they become.

The IceHL began as a handful of intangible sports identities for the enjoyment of concept artists and self-appointed sports design connoisseurs — something the Icethetics community could call its own. But over the years a great group of fantasy hockey players has built up around it. Many GMs tell me they've never played in a league like it. The IceHL has sparked unique friendships and exciting rivalries. It has taken on a life of its own — beyond anything I could have imagined.

But what started as a single 20-team league in 2010 has grown to 44 teams across three ESPN fantasy leagues. The sprawl has taken a toll. We haven't had a Yearbook since before the IceHL World launched. It's gotten too big for its own good.

In order for me to be a better commissioner, the league needs to be a bit more manageable. Not a lot, just a bit. A huge help for me would be scaling back to two ESPN leagues — as it was from 2011 to 2015. Unfortunately, ESPN caps its leagues at 20 teams. If we were to merge the IceHL World teams into the IceHL East and West, we'd be just two teams over on both sides.

To that end, this summer, your vote will officially assign four existing teams to "inactive" status — a temporary designation so as to leave the door open for a potential return to action in the future. (Stick tap to Houston Hellcats GM Michael Marchand for helping me come to this conclusion.)

While the community will select the teams to be deactivated, there is a caveat. Not all teams are eligible for inactive status. For example, any team that's ever won a league championship is safe — as are teams managed by GMs who have been with the league since the first fantasy season in 2010-11. There will be a total of 17 protected teams, with 27 left over — nine from each conference.

Voting will begin on Sun., June 5. Details on the voting process will be revealed soon.

The general managers have been notified of these plans and have had the chance to offer their feedback. I don't foresee the need to force any GMs into unwanted retirement since we typically see a handful voluntarily step down every summer. But if we don't have at least four departures, I'll work things out with the GMs to reach the number we need in a method that's as fair as possible. 

The odds of adding any new GMs for the 2016-17 seems slim at this point, though not impossible. However, should the need arise for new GMs, we do have a waiting list of six Reserves at present. Because of all this, it's unlikely any new applications will be taken this summer.

Rebranding & Realignment

Reducing the league to 40 teams may be a bit of a downer, so to lift everyone's spirits and inject some new excitement into the league, there will be a summer design contest!

Two to four teams will be rebranded this summer. Your vote will help determine which teams are most in need of a new look — and possibly a new location as well. At least two teams will go through this process, but depending on how the votes go, there may be as many as four.

Like the contraction process, not all teams will be eligible for rebranding. In addition to the teams protected from contraction, any team that's been rebranded in the past or has less than three years in the league will also be ineligible.

It all shakes out to a total of 8 to 10 teams that will be considered for rebranding. The final list and details of the voting process will be revealed soon.

If any teams are to be relocated, conference realignment may be required, especially after the absorption of any IceHL World teams that are not contracted. This may result in a team previously in the IceHL West moving to the East, or vice versa.

Again, with regard to GMs, they are aware of these possibilities. Some may have to end up choosing between sticking with a team and giving up their roster or keeping their roster but adopting a new name for their team. As always, the GMs are tasked only with managing rosters and have no official voice in the voting process (apart from casting votes like any other member of the community).

Summer Schedule

This is subject to change, of course, but here's our tentative 12-week plan for the summer.

  • Week of June 5 — Contraction Voting, Round 1
  • Week of June 12 — Contraction Voting, Round 2
  • Sat, June 18 — Official announcement of contracted teams
  • Week of June 19 — Rebranding Vote, Round 1
  • Week of June 26 — Rebranding Vote, Round 2
  • Week of July 3 — Relocation Vote
  • Week of July 10 — Name Submissions
  • Week of July 17 — Name Voting
  • Sun, July 24 — Official announcement of new team names
  • July 24 – Aug 5 — Logo Submissions (2 weeks)
  • Week of Aug 7 — Logo Voting
  • Sun, Aug 14 — Official unveiling of winning logos
  • Week of Aug 14 — Jersey Submissions
  • Week of Aug 21 — Jersey Voting
  • Sun, Aug 28 — Official unveiling of winning jerseys

So as usual, summer will be busy around here!

Let me know what you think of the plans in the comments. And check back soon for details on how the voting will work for contraction and rebranding.

World Expansion: Jersey Voting, Final Rounds

We're selecting jerseys for our new IceHL World expansion teams! Your votes have narrowed the field from 68 entries down to 16. The winners of each poll will advance to the final round in a few days. Happy voting!

UPDATE · Sep 10 · The finalists have been decided! The last polls are now underway as we wrap up the IceHL World summer expansion project.

Below are the results from the first round of polls.

Auckland Rockhoppers

Helsinki Lynx

Munich Machine

Seoul Express

By the way, if you're hoping to be an IceHL GM this season, applications open soon!

World Expansion: Jersey Voting, Round 1

Over the last two weeks, we've received some fantastic jersey submissions for our new IceHL World expansion teams! Today I'm excited to present them all in the first round of voting.

To keep things interesting, I'm changing up the selection process this time around. Rather than one big bracket, we're going to narrow the pools down to four per team with a series of heats. Each team had a different number of entries, so the heat sizes will vary. The top vote-getter in each heat will move on to the next round. The winners of those rounds will advance to the final to ensure three rounds of polls for each team.

Below you'll find 68 jersey entries in 12 polls. Click to enlarge each design. You may make up to 2 selections in polls with more than 3 options. Happy voting!

Lastly, because of issues that arose during the logo design selection a few weeks ago, I'm going to experiment with the IceHL Design Council's role. Rather than casting votes for individual designs along with the community, they will be consulted at the end of the public vote where they will have the option to veto the community's decision.

Three of the four council members will need to veto a design to have it disqualified. There are four teams and council members will each have two vetoes at their disposal. If a design earns more than 75% of the community vote, it will be immune to a Council veto.

Please let me know if you have any concerns about this process.

World Expansion: Submit your jersey designs!

We've had several days to take in the winning logos for the IceHL World expansion teams, so by now you're probably eager to submit your jersey designs. So let's do it!


  • Design 1 dark and 1 light jersey using team colors and logos provided. (Equipment such as socks, gloves and helmets is optional.)

  • Both jerseys must be in the same image file (PNG or PDF preferred).

  • Submit your final design to by Friday, August 28.

  • Include your first and last name and email address in the image you submit and in the body of your email. (Your name will be displayed during voting but your email address will remain private.)

  • Most important: BE CREATIVE!


To enter the contest you will need to download the IceHL Jersey Design Kit. Click the red button on the right.

The Design Kit is a .zip file containing the following items:

  • 1 double jersey template (PNG)
  • 13 team logos (primary, secondary and wordmarks for the Rockhoppers, Lynx, Machine and Express)

As in previous jersey contests, the template provided is encouraged, but not required. You may use any template of your choice so long as the single image includes:

  • Two contrasting jerseys (front and back for both)
  • Full set of numbers and letters (make note of any special fonts used)
  • Optional: socks, helmets, gloves and pants

Useful links: | Hockey Jersey Concepts

When customizing your jerseys, you may use any name and number you choose. (Inappropriate names will disqualify your submission.)

Please note that the team logos in the Design Kit are to be used only on jersey submissions. You may not use them for any other purpose.

Final note. Simply submitting your jersey design doesn't guarantee it will be included in the voting process. If it doesn't meet a certain level of quality, I'll give you the opportunity to try again as long as you meet the deadline.

Deadline: Friday, August 28

You have two full weeks to design and submit your jerseys. As always, if you have any questions, please ask by email if you want a quick response. Good luck to all!

World Expansion: Winning Logos Revealed!

It's been an interesting journey for the four newest additions to the IceHL this summer. Now it's time to officially unveil the winning designs.

Auckland Rockhoppers // Daniel Otters

Daniel Otters brings a unique color palette to the IceHL with his take on the Auckland Rockhoppers. In fact, the vote was unanimous! All seven IceHL Design Council votes were cast for Daniel's design. That is impressive!

Helsinki Lynx // Daniel Otters

Once again, the beautiful work of Daniel Otters enters the IceHL World, this time for the Helsinki Lynx. The stiff competition made for a close vote of 4-3. Design Council members Will and Colin cast their votes for Daniel, as did 54% of the community, which counts as two Council votes.

Daniel has now designed three winning logos for the IceHL. His first was the Stockholm Hammers last season. Prior to that, he created the winning jerseys for the rebranded Hamilton Steelcats.

Munich Machine // Christian Ryder

The Munich Machine will have a brilliant Bavarian theme thanks to Christian Ryder. His logo dominated with a 6-1 vote of the Design Council. This is Christian's first winning design entry in the IceHL and it's a memorable one!

Seoul Express // Ross Taylor

Ross Taylor has been creating logos for the IceHL since its inception in 2008 and this year he contributes another, now for the Seoul Express! The vote was tight — a 4-3 decision of the Design Council.

Ross won three design contests during the creation of the IceHL. You can currently see his work for the New York Guardians and Edmonton Kodiaks. He also created logos for the Regina Renegades, who were rebranded as the Philadelphia Aces in 2013.

Jersey designers, stay tuned! A design kit with the new logos in on the way. Then we'll wrap up the summer by creating new jerseys for our new teams!

Then GMs are next. By early September, we'll be taking new applications!

World Expansion: Logo Brackets, Final Round

Time has come to make our final decisions! Which logos do you think should represent the four new IceHL World expansion teams? Happy voting!

Auckland Rockhoppers

Helsinki Lynx

Munich Machine

Seoul Express

Now, some housekeeping for those who have been curious. 

  • Results of these polls will not necessarily determine the winning designs. Don't forget about the IceHL Design Council and how this all works now. The winners of the polls earn two votes out of the total of seven which make up the Design Council.
  • This weekend, after the Design Council has weighed in and these polls have closed, the winners will be announced.
  • Concerned about color repetition? Fear not. If any of the winning logos use a color palette that's already common in the IceHL, the Design Council will work with the artist to fix that before we lock in the final design.
  • We'll also work with designers to remove any non-English writing contained within a logo. For as much as we're trying to build on an "international league," the fact is this is a fantasy league very much based in North America with all English-speaking participants.
  • Any other questions? Feel free to ask.

UPDATE · Aug 6 · Hey guys. Wow. I have to admit I'm surprised by the strong and vocal reactions to one of the housekeeping items above. But since you guys are so passionate about this, I thought I'd go into more detail than a bullet point permits.

Let me start by saying you are welcome to disagree with me. What follows is not an attempt to convince you that you should change your opinion. It's simply the way I'm choosing to operate the IceHL right now. I apologize to those who are opposed and appreciate your support and interest in the league.

Sometimes commissioners have to make unpopular decisions. So long as I don't become the next Gary Bettman, right! But seriously though, this isn't terribly complicated, so I'll explain.

First, I oversimplified on two points in my haste to quickly express a thought. While it's not true "all" participants in the IceHL are native English speakers, the vast majority are. So let's leave that point alone. I also incorrectly said we'd "remove any non-English writing" when that's not what I meant.

As has been pointed out, Honu and Olympiques are not English words yet they are names of IceHL teams. But English speakers understand them and they're written in the Latin/Roman alphabet. As for the Cosmonauts' Ice Classic Series jersey, most English-speakers recognize Moscow when written in Cyrillic. Try not to think of this as some new rule that will have to be followed to the letter. For one thing, I never called it a rule.

The error I made was in attempting to generalize so as not to appear to be picking on Lexi Dever's design. The truth is, sometimes I look at things like this on a case-by-case basis, and while I am singling out this design, it's not because of any bias for or against it.

Personally, I love the unique cultural touch in Lexi's secondary logo. But I don't read Korean so I can't tell you what it says. So what? Well, as the guy in charge of this league, I am ultimately responsible for all parts of it. I am impressed by the amount of research Lexi says was put into this as not every designer would go that extra mile. This was not made clear to me prior to the comment below.

But if somehow it does not say what Lexi tells me it says, I'm not comfortable saying to someone, "well the designer told me it was accurate."

Again I apologize if my reasoning seems flimsy. You don't have to agree, you don't even have to accept it. But that is the way it is right now. If you were in my shoes you might feel differently. Or maybe you wouldn't. We all have our reasons.

Lastly, while I appreciate some of you defending my decision by saying "it's Chris's league so he can do what he wants" — I do not agree with that sentiment. I may have created the league, but I feel like it really belongs to this community. And I am the simply steward of it. 

At the end of the day, if the majority of the community wants to see Korean text in a Seoul Express logo, I'm game. But I will need absolutely irrefutable proof that it says what it's supposed to say. Not simply someone's word or a website translation.

I'm sure you'll find faults in my logic here, but just try to understand that this isn't a one-size-fits-all type of thing. I know that's tough to accept. We all want to know where the boundaries are — probably so we can push them — but ultimately, I am responsible for all of this. I hope you can understand even if you still disagree.

(Though I am starting to wonder if it was a mistake to expand the league internationally.)

World Expansion: Logo Brackets, Round 3

We're almost there! Only 12 logos remain in contention for the four IceHL World expansion teams. The Rockhoppers and Express are down to the final two designs, so we'll hold off voting on those in this round — which will get the Lynx and Machine brackets to their final two designs.

Be sure to vote in all 4 polls!

Check back in a few days for the final poll.

Check back in a few days for the final poll.

Check back in a few days for the final polls for each team!

World Expansion: Logo Brackets, Round 2

Voting continues as we move toward deciding logos for the IceHL World expansion teams. We started with 40. We're down to 22. We'll eliminate 10 more of the next couple of days with this batch of polls. Make sure you vote in all 10!

Again, check back in a few days for the next round of voting!