Halifax, Philadelphia to Join IceHL

Well this is only a week late.

Last Friday, our city polls came to an end. The two teams being relocated got new homes and voters made some decisions about what to call the teams that are being rebranded.

New cities to be welcomed in 2013-14

That's where two IceHL teams are being moved to this fall. Halifax, Nova Scotia was the most popular locale as it won both polls. But of course only one team can go there. With 39% of the vote, it'll be the Atlanta Arsenal moving north. 

Coming in at a close second, Philadelphia, Penn. will be the new home of the Regina Renegades. The move puts the team squarely on the eastern side of the map, which means they'll probably have to come out of the IceHL WEST fantasy league. More on that in a moment.

Sharpshooters become Saskatchewan's team

For the most part, our teams marked for rebranding will be keeping the city name they've had for five years. Almost all but the Saskatoon Sharpshooters. With the relocation of the Regina club, the Sharpshooters will be renamed for the province of Saskatchewan. Whether the Sharpshooters name sticks around still remains to be seen.

Voters were also split over whether to rename the Dallas franchise for the state of Texas. So during name voting, both options are available.

League realignment still to be determined

Now to this. Realignment will be a hot topic this summer. With the Renegades moving east, it would be silly to keep them in the IceHL WEST. But moving teams isn't as easy as it sounds now that we have a committed group of awesome GMs managing each team.

It would be most obvious to move the Minnesota Mammoths — clearly the westernmost team in the IceHL EAST. But this is a team coming off a championship season, expecting to pick first overall in the next draft. If they moved to the WEST, that league would have two championship teams — and only one team can pick first overall.

So let's take a look at the map. The St. Louis Archers are the second westernmost team. They could move. But GM Ryan Laden has been doing a masterful job assembling a roster full of talent. Should his team move to the WEST, he faces a Keeper problem. Every year, IceHL GMs get to carry four players over to the next season. Certainly there would be overlap with existing IceHL WEST clubs.

This keeper overlap will be a problem no matter which teams move. That is, however, unless the GMs stay in their respective leagues. For example, if Philadelphia and Minnesota switch fantasy leagues, the GMs could switch teams as well meaning rosters wouldn't be an issue. The Mammoths' keepers would transfer to Philadelphia while the Renegades' keepers would transfer to Minnesota. But I doubt Minnesota's champion GM Matt Riegler will be eager to give up his Mammoth identity easily.

I've been coming up with ways of dealing with this realignment problem and how to compensate teams that end up losing out. But it's a tough call, I have to tell you. There don't seem to be any easy solutions.

How do we deal with realignment?

I know the GMs are all very nervous about what happens next. Given the keeper implications, all GMs have the potential to be impacted by this. So before I make any decisions, I'd like to get some feedback from the community here.

Bearing in mind the impact on the GMs, how do you guys think we should handle this? Do we make it simple and let Philadelphia play in the IceHL WEST for a season (a la Winnipeg in the NHL's Southeast Division) leaving the tough calls for a later date? Or do we just rip off the Band-aid and get it over with? And if so, how?

For now I leave you with this.

Hope my photo edits make IceHL relocation feel a little more real.