ECHL expands, adds CHL's seven franchises for 2014-15 season

Remember that major minor league shake-up we speculated on last month? It happened. And a lot faster than expected.

The ECHL announced today that it has accepted seven new members into the league effective immediately. They are the Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder.

If those names sound familiar, it's because all seven were members of the Central Hockey League until yesterday. The teams will begin play in the ECHL, which now has 28 teams, in the 2014-15 season.

I don't envy the people who will need to work out the logistics in the next 10 days. It's going to mean divisional realignments, changes to the Kelly Cup Playoffs format and a completely new game schedule.

The new schedule also means a lot of the specialty jersey dates currently in the Icethetics Calendar may need to be thrown out and replaced in the next couple weeks.

This news also requires the fifth — and hopefully final — revision of my NHL affiliation infographic (right).

Speaking of that, you might be wondering if any NHL teams now have affiliates who will be competing against each other in the upcoming season.

As it happens, the Tampa Bay Lightning have agreements with both the Florida Everblades and Brampton Beast. The deal with the Beast was a one-year term signed last August and I haven't seen a press release about a renewal. However, the Beast still use the Lightning logo in their website banner. Confused? Me too.

The Dallas Stars were previously affiliated with the Allen Americans, but a recent change in ownership put an end to that. The Stars are still tied to the Idaho Steelheads.

So what do you think of this major upheaval of minor league hockey in North America?

Image from Utica Comets via Facebook

By the way, since we're talking minor league hockey, I'd be remiss not to mention the unveiling of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic logo today. The Utica Comets will be hosting on January 25, 2015.