Time to Right the Schedule, AHL

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With the announcement of the Colorado Eagles moving to the AHL, as well as the San Antonio Rampage announcing a multi-year affiliation deal with the St. Louis Blues, and barring any unforeseen circumstances with other teams around the league; the AHL team roster has been set for 2018-19 already– which is nice, but brings up some other questions, at least in my mind.

Of course, with Colorado being in there– the divisional alignment is going to be pretty straight forward. The seven teams west of Texas– Stockton, Bakersfield, San Jose, San Diego, Ontario, Tucson, and now Colorado– will mostly likely make up the Pacific Division. This will move the Texas Stars and Rampage to the Central Division, thus pushing Cleveland to the North Division. Simple enough. It also leaves some room for when/if Seattle gets a team and wants to put their affiliate in the Pacific Northwest with them.

The bigger question now is what to do with the schedule. With all seven teams on the equal footing, does the AHL finally pull the trigger on making those Pacific Division team play a full 76-game season or so they think that 68 will be smarter for all the teams, despite having their own division. In either situation, the idea of using percentage points as a deciding factor gets thrown out the window and really shouldn’t be the default playoff that always comes up on TheAHL.com.

My thought on this is that this is the perfect time to sell the 76-game schedule to the Pacific teams. Look, they had a nice run of playing eight less games, though it really hasn’t make much a different in the playoffs for them, but it’s time for the AHL to put their foot down and say, “If you want to play in our league now– it’s time to play by our rules and play the full 76-game slate.”

It’s an easy sell now. There’s seven teams in their division, they won’t have to make “big trips” to Texas to play and could find a way to still keep to themselves, but at the same time– actually be a part of the league in playing an actual full schedule for once. Hell, it’s almost paramount of the AHL to make this happen rather than keep letting them get away with the 68-game slate. If they keep doing that– who’s really in charge?? Why have these teams in the league, even with their full division within a reasonable travel destination, if they don’t play the same amount of games that the other 24 teams do.

As you know, this isn’t my first ranting piece about the AHL schedule, but I hope it will be my last. You can’t have a league that’s touting itself as the step-below The Show, if you have two different set of rules in terms of scheduling for the league. This is the time now to really show that the league is in charge and that eight more games against others in the league are going to be okay and the players will be able to get through the travel. If they want to make the show, they’ll have to deal with some travel here and there anyway– so why not get them used to it and have them earn their stripes (and their reward miles) rather then steal eight games away from there throughout the season.

That’s Enough, AHL; Even It Out

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With the reveal of the AHL schedule today, it shows that the league which is the top developmental league in North American hockey is still keeping the schedule for six of the eight Pacific Division teams at eight games below everyone else.

That’s quite enough of that then.

Sure, it hasn’t benefited the Pacific Division when it comes to the playoffs as none of the teams have made it to the Calder Cup Finals by having fresher legs, but if that’s the case– why keep kowtowing to the NHL teams and actually have a business plan to keep all the teams at 76 games or all of them at 68. To have a different schedule for six of the teams is completely bush-league for a league that’s trying to be the top developmental league for the NHL.

I’m a broken record on this, mostly because I say it every year they come out. The ECHL doesn’t give a different schedule to Utah or Colorado or Rapid City– they didn’t give a different schedule to Alaska when they were in the league and they’re almost in Russia. So why, in their infinite wisdom, is the AHL doing this for a third straight year??

Look, I get it– the NHL teams moved their AHL teams so that the proximity was closer– great. However, shouldn’t they be worried more about actually game-play rather than having more practice time?? Hell, why even have games at all and just have controlled scrimmages. It seems to defeat the purpose if you’re going to have only one division in the entire league rely on points percentage (as the other divisions have an equal amount of games).

It’s almost as if the AHL should have called the original five teams’ bluff and let them break away and start their own league to see how much that could stayed afloat and how much that would have helped. The AHL was smart enough to allow the teams to move out west, but at the same time– they should have put their foot down and say, “Sure, you can move the markets who have been good to us over to the left coast, but you have to play the same amount of games as the rest of the league to make us not look stupid or walked over.”

As much as I love the AHL and all the things they have done, it just seems stupid that they’re still allowing six teams to rewrite the rules on how a schedule should be presented and how many games they should be playing versus the rest of the league.

I’ll leave with this– if the proposed move of the Colorado Eagles to the AHL happens, will they still stick with those seven teams playing a 68-game schedule?? Will that whole division be an island onto themselves?? Does that make them more or less prepared for the NHL because they don’t bother themselves with long road trips??

We’ll have to wait another 365 days or so for that to all play out.