Fresh off the end to a successful 2012-2013 Central Hockey League season,the Allen Americans winning the Ray Miron President’s Cup, Central Hockey League commissioner, Duane Lewis is already looking forward to next season. What was great about the 22nd season of the CHL and what needs to improve for the 23rd season?
“From a success stand-point, we look at the on-ice success of the ten teams and the teams that made the playoffs. When the teams that made the playoffs are within a .120 winning percentage of each other it shows the competitive nature of the teams playing each other. The fans never know who is going to win and that’s what we consider to be on-the ice,” said CHL Commissioner, Duane Lewis. “Off-the-ice, we had some great success too. With the attendance and the fans coming out each and every night and supporting their respective teams and we’re pleased by that as well. Overall…our teams did a great job with the entertainment of the fans and I look forward to the 23rd season next year.”
The Allen Americans beat the Wichita Thunder in a seven-game series that was forced into overtime where the Americans won 3-2. This marks the second year in a row that the Wichita Thunder lost in a game seven. Next season, the Central Hockey League will add two more teams: the Brampton Beast (Brampton, Ontario) and the St. Charles Chill (St. Charles, MO).
“It’s very exciting adding these new expansion markets to the CHL,” said CHL Commissioner, Duane Lewis. “It’s going to open up more jobs for the hockey players, front-office staff and also in the arena. Obviously adding new markets and growing our footprint usually lends itself to other markets and they become more attracted to the Central Hockey League…going to a place like Brampton is not only growing our Northeast footprint but expanding into Canada, where most of our players are from.”
With the two new teams joining the CHL, the playoff format and regular season play will inevitably be different. There will be 4-6 more games added to each team’s season and the playoff format will once again be played as an 8 team playoff. Brampton and St. Charles will likely add a new caliber of play to the reformed Central Hockey League and many are already ready to get back to the season.
“Each year in our governor’s meeting in June, the owners vote on whether they want the schedule and playoff format to change or remain the same,” said Lewis. “With the expansion there is a possibility that we have two conferences… It’s a lot of discussion and varies each year.”
While most believe the Central Hockey League’s 23rd season will be great, some believe the CHL will fold and the teams who have a set foundation will move on to the Eastern Coast Hockey League or a new league, similar to the ECHL. Duane Lewis shot this down immediately saying,
“There are a lot of rumors of teams moving to a ECHL or SPHL league but that simply can’t happen, from a legal perspective, because they are all locked in to a long-term contract and regarding the League folding. That can’t happen either because our revenue is sufficient and we are looking at more expansions within the next two years…”