Trail play by play man Chris Wahl alerted me to an article in a Wenatchee newspaper where the NAHL’s Wild are looking to move to the BCHL.
It certainly isn’t the first time this has been discussed and it’s guaranteed to spark lots of discussion on both sides of the border.
Here’s the article from The Wenatchee World newspaper:
USA Hockey blocks league change for Wild
Team wants to join British Columbia Hockey League; evaluating appeal
By Brent Stecker
World staff writer
Monday, January 16, 2012
WENATCHEE — USA Hockey has denied a bid by the Wenatchee Wild to leave the North American Hockey League and join the British Columbia Hockey League, Wild president Bill Stewart confirmed Monday.
Stewart and the Wild’s head scout, Rick Ellison, made the pitch to switch leagues during USA Hockey’s winter meeting Saturday in Orlando, Fla., Stewart said. But after considering the request in a closed session, the organization’s executive board declined the move without providing a reason.
“They don’t like a team based in the U.S. playing in a Canadian league, but (in Washington) there’s six teams and five of them play in Canadian hockey leagues,” Stewart said.
The Wild are pursuing the league change for travel reasons, Stewart said. In the NAHL, their closest opponents are the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters and Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Rage, both roughly 920 miles from Wenatchee. In the BCHL, each of the 16 current teams are based in British Columbia, and only the Prince George Spruce Kings, their farthest possible opponent at 635 miles from Wenatchee, are located in the northern half of the province.
“We’d save money, and the longest bus trip is about 12 hours (in the BCHL),” Stewart said. “The last 12 days, the team spent 96 hours on the bus to play five games. That could be (our) entire travel schedule for the BCHL. … The kids would miss a lot less school.”
Stewart said Wenatchee attempted to join the BCHL before its inaugural season in 2007. The Wild instead joined the NAHL for an agreed-upon three seasons, with the condition that the league and the Wild would work together to bring in “a couple” of travel partners into the NAHL within a six-hour bus ride of Wenatchee, Stewart said.
The 2011-12 season is Wenatchee’s fourth in the NAHL.
“We must have looked at 14 new markets, but with the way the economy is right now there are no new (arenas) being built,” Stewart said.
Stewart said the NAHL “does not endorse” the Wild’s application to the BCHL.
The BCHL and NAHL operate on the same level of play — Junior A hockey.
If the Wild were to appeal USA Hockey’s decision and the move to the BCHL was then accepted, Stewart said he does not know if it the team would start there next season.
“It may be a thing that takes another year to get done,” he said.
Stewart said the Wild’s application to the BCHL is not related to the shaky financial standing of the team’s home arena, Town Toyota Center.
A junior hockey website had speculated that the Wild may move to a city in British Columbia to ensure the switch to the BCHL, but Stewart said the Wild will play in Wenatchee as long as the Town Toyota Center is operating.
“If you can guarantee me a building here, we’ll be here,” Stewart said. “We’re just trying to get the right model that works. We’re trying to find a junior league with a business model that’s better for our organization and for the players in our organization regarding school and travel.”