First Look: 2014 Relocation & Realignment

On Monday, I announced the plan for the upcoming realignment of the IceHL and subsequent relocation of an IceHL EAST franchise. Since we have a couple of weeks before that project begins, I wanted to lay out some more details and open it all up to feedback from the community at large.


With the Icethetics tournaments back in full swing this summer, I thought it would make sense to use the bracket format for some of our IceHL votes. In fact, I have four in mind!

City Bracket
To make things simple, we'll start with 16 cities which will give us four rounds of polls to determine an ultimate winner. Scroll down past this section on brackets to to see the 16 cities I currently have in mind.

Naming Bracket
When it comes time to pick a team name, we'll have 8 to choose from. You'll all be free to suggest names over a period of several days. And one of the cool new features of the Icethetics comments section will help determine which of those will be the 8 that go to the bracket.

If you hover over a comment on any post, you'll see some icons pop up in the corner, one of which is a like button. The name suggestions with the most likes (assuming they're appropriate) will be included in the bracket.

Logo Bracket
Just as with previous IceHL projects, all appropriate logo submissions will be included in the voting. But this time, we'll do it bracket-style. I'm allotting two weeks to get through them but the number of rounds will be determined by how many logos are submitted.

Jersey Bracket
Jerseys will work the same way as the logos. All appropriate submissions will be included in the bracket. Seeding for these brackets is still up in the air. I haven't yet decided how that will work, but if all else fails, seeds will be assigned randomly.

16 Cities

The plan for the City Bracket is by no means final, but I wanted to give everyone a look at what I'm thinking so you can suggest changes before voting begins next month.

Tentatively, the bracket will include these first-round pairings:

  • Albuquerque NM vs Phoenix AZ
  • Whitehorse YT (Canada) vs Billings MT
  • Honolulu HI vs Mexico City DF (Mexico)
  • Boise ID vs Cheyenne WY
  • Des Moines IA vs Omaha NE
  • Oklahoma City OK vs Wichita KS
  • Las Vegas NV vs San Francisco CA
  • Sioux Falls SD vs Fargo ND

As you can see, I've tried to pair cities based on geography. Again, I have not yet determined seeding, but I do think these pairings would make for good opening match-ups.

The idea behind these 16 was to look at states, provinces and major metropolitan areas that don't already have IceHL teams.


I anticipate getting this project off the ground almost immediately after the season ends on April 13. The league champions will be announced April 14 as will the IceHL EAST team that's moving west. On April 15, I hope to launch the first city polls. The process will conclude in mid to late July with the full branding of the new team complete.

It may seem like a lot for one team — especially given how many we did last summer. But bear in mind that at the same time we'll be launching the third league, IceHL World. That'll include all of the same processes from choosing cities to names, logos and jerseys. We'll stay plenty busy this summer.

Once we get things underway for the IceHL WEST relocation, I'll announce the plans for the IceHL World. I will reiterate that we'll be starting the league with 8 teams. Stay tuned for more.

If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or send me an email.

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.