The 2014 IceHL Playoffs officially begin tonight! With that, I have an official announcement to make regarding changes to the league for the 2014-15 season.
The Philadelphia Aces were in the IceHL WEST this season despite the fact that their geography should have them in the IceHL EAST. This move will happen prior to the start of the 2014-15 season.
Prior to being relocated by a vote of Icethetics readers last summer, the franchise was known as the Regina Renegades, based in Saskatchewan. To avoid upsetting the balance of the two leagues and any inconvenience to the sitting GMs, I decided to put off realignment to 2014-15.
I also wanted the community to be able to use the extra time to come up with the best way of handling the realignment situation. After hearing from many GMs, a decision has been reached.
Which EAST team will move?
When the Aces move east, an IceHL EAST team will be required to move west to keep the leagues balanced at 16 teams each. That team will not be selected arbitrarily and will not be completely out of the hands of the GMs.
The IceHL EAST team that finishes last in the overall standings (at the conclusion of the Consolation Ladder) will be automatically relocated to the IceHL WEST and rebranded by the Icethetics community. Teams that qualified for the playoffs will NOT be eligible.
Also ineligible for relocation is any team that has won an IceHL championship. The idea is to build a history around teams that have made their mark on the league. The North Carolina Nighthawks won it all in 2012 but did not qualify for the 2014 IceHL EAST Playoffs.
However, due to the nature of the 3-week Consolation Ladder, the No. 9 and No. 10 teams cannot move down far enough to finish in last place.
As such, only the following teams have the potential for relocation:
- Hartford Mariners
- Chicago Hitmen
- Halifax Dragons
- Hamilton Steelcats
- Quebec Armada
- Tampa Bay Barracudas
Again, the final result of the Consolation Ladder will determine which team moves. That announcement will be officially made on Mon., April 14.
Where will the team move?
Voters will choose the team's new location from a predetermined list of cities in western North America. Only cities west of Minneapolis (the westernmost EAST team) will be considered. We'll start with about a dozen and narrow them down through a series of polls.
The following cities, in no particular order, are eligible to take the relocated team:
- San Francisco, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Cheyenne, Wyoming
- Boise, Idaho
- Billings, Montana
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Bismarck, North Dakota
- Whitehorse, Yukon
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
This list is NOT exhaustive. If there are other cities you think should be included in the voting, please let me know by email, Twitter (@theIceHL), or by leaving a comment below.
What happens to the fantasy league?
The swapping of two teams between the IceHL EAST and WEST will create a problem for the two GMs involved. Since Aces GM Dan Roesch is the only one without the ability to alter his team's fate, he will get to decide how to proceed. There are three scenarios.
In Scenario A, as the Aces move east, Dan may choose to follow the franchise and move to the IceHL EAST along with it. His roster would not be able to follow because the players he owns in the WEST may be owned by other GMs in the EAST.
Instead, Dan would gain the roster of the franchise that moves west — or any available roster of his choosing should any IceHL EAST GMs resign by this point. He'll have first choice above any other GMs wishing to change teams.
In this case, the GM of the displaced IceHL EAST team would also be displaced — but by no means removed from the league against his will. Should the GM in question choose to remain in the IceHL, he would have his choice of any other available team, including the one Dan vacated in the IceHL WEST.
In Scenario B, Dan may choose to retain his roster and stay in the IceHL WEST. His team would then gain the new locale and branding selected by the Icethetics community this summer.
This is the simplest solution as it would not displace the GM of the last-place IceHL EAST team. Instead, that GM would simply become the GM of the Aces, remaining in the IceHL EAST. No GM would lose his roster — specifically Keepers.
In Scenario C, Dan may absolve himself of the Aces franchise entirely by resigning or by choosing to move to any team made available by a GM resignation. (As commissioner, I am aware of at least two teams that will become available this summer. They will be named after the playoffs end.)
If Dan chooses this scenario, the GM of the last-place IceHL EAST team will then decide what to do next. His choices will be A) following his franchise to the WEST and taking on the Aces roster; B) retaining his roster and remaining in the EAST as the new Aces GM; or C) resigning or choosing to take over any team that has become available through GM resignation.
If both Dan and the displaced East GM choose Scenario C, existing IceHL GMs will have the option of taking over the Aces or the displaced team. These GMs must notify me of their wishes by a set deadline, at which point a lottery will be held.
If no GMs are interested in taking over either team, they will become available to new GMs joining later this summer. Details will be announced in September.
When will all this take place?
The playoffs wrap up on April 13, at which point champions will be crowned in both leagues. Within a week or so, I hope to hear back from all 32 GMs on whether they plan to leave or return for another season. But circumstances may change over the course of the summer meaning some decisions may change as the new season gets closer.
Once it's known which teams are becoming available through GM resignation, Dan may make his decision. However, his deadline to decide will be Sept. 1, 2014 — allowing him to wait and see if any other GMs resign, making new teams available prior to the start of the season.
In other words, this could be decided immediately after the season ends, or almost five months later before the new season begins. We'll find out as we go. Follow @IceHLAces on Twitter to hear from Dan directly.
If you have any other questions, please ask in the comments. I may add the answers to this post if necessary.