LAFAYETTE, La. — Hello y’all! We’re a few weeks into the SPHL offseason, and I’ve had some time to gather a few thoughts, musings, and other cogitations.
Truthfully, I’m still binge-watching some shows on Netflix and getting up-to-date on all of the Marvel movies before I watch Infinity War. Also, Stephanie and I just adopted a new kitten. Just look at how cute this little fella is!
Yes, I’ve become THAT GUY who posts kitten pictures on his Facebook page. Sorry, not sorry. Anyway, I’m getting off track. On with the brainwork!
1. Vegas making the Stanley Cup Final is the biggest hockey miracle since 1980.
The Vegas Golden Knights have accomplished the unthinkable – an expansion team advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. We kick around the term “Lightning in a bottle” when describing highly improbable events. In this case, Vegas caught lightning about 20 times in their franchise history and may catch the Lightning in a few days if Tampa wins one more game.
2. Quad-City is going to be the 11th SPHL team.
Everything we’ve seen over the past few weeks points to a quick return to pro hockey after the ECHL Quad City Mallards folded up shop. The league extended their deadline to QC after the Moline, Ill., city council approved a two-percent ticket tax increase for the ironically-named TaxSlayer Center. The city wants a hockey team, the arena wants a hockey team, and the SPHL wants the market.
3. Going back in time would be a horrible idea.
I’m sure most of us have thought about going back in time to give our younger selves advice, right history’s wrongs, or not sending that drunk text to your ex. I hate to break it to you, but if you went back in time – even for one second – you would die a horrible death.
The fatal flaw in time travel is that our science-fiction writers base fourth-dimensional movement solely on an earth-based frame of reference. However, our planet – rotating at 1600 feet-per-second while moving around our sun at 18 miles-per-second, which is hurtling around our galaxy at 134 miles-per-second, with said Milky Way zipping through the universe at 361 miles-per-second. Add up all those numbers, and even in one second’s time, you’ve moved over 500 miles through the cosmos.
So if you go back in time, even for one second, and you’d either have a great view of the planet while suffocating in the blackness of space or instantly roasted in Earth’s mantle. Ouch.
Stick tap – https://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/71/howfast.html
4. Sure, it’s flawed, but I’m not going to complain about the SPHL’s playoff format anymore.
I’m not a fan of the best-of-three playoff format, an opinion I’ve rehashed every spring. The ultra-quick series don’t have the time to generate much interest (or ticket sales, except for Huntsville) and too many dates fall on highly-unprofitable weekdays. Even the Federal League – a steadfast punching bag of mine – settles their championship in a best-of-five final series.
Since this will be my final diatribe against the best-of-three, I will offer the SPHL one last suggestion for fixing their postseason woes while keeping the league’s penchant for outside-the-box innovation. Make all playoff matchups one-and-done.
No more poorly-attended weekday playoff games. No one/two-day ticket sales windows. An entire week to generate media interest in seven do-or-die, win-or-go-home events. Sure, I’d prefer the crescendo of drama which the more extended series provides. However, if the league is never going to entertain a return to five-game series, then let’s quit with the best-of-three facade.
Alright, I’m stepping off the postseason soapbox for good – at least for the next ten months.
5. I’m seriously excited about the changes we’re making over the summer.
We’re on the verge of making some big announcements regarding our site and to our SPHL team for next season. We’ve already announced Matthew Harding‘s move to Editor-in-Chief and my step up to the Managing Editor’s chair. Our summer recruiting drive has already yielded huge dividends, and we hope to bring in some more great talent to the website during the off-season. Stay tuned, y’all. It’s going to be yuuuuge.
6. The Carolina Thunderbirds have exceeded expectations.
True, I give the Federal League a ton of grief, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the job Scott Brand has done with the Thunderbirds in Winston-Salem. The Thunderbirds demolished FHL attendance records in their inaugural season, and the organization seems to be headed in the right direction.
7. Jim Combs isn’t getting called up, and I’m okay with it.
The SPHL president was one of the names being kicked around to replace outgoing ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna. Combs has done a heck of a job transforming the league into the primary feeder league to the ECHL and has hit a home run with this postseason’s innovative Challenge Round. The league as a whole manages to do a lot of excellent work with relatively scant resources compared to the rest of minor pro hockey.
8. Special Teams play was a significant factor this season.
All levels of pro hockey enforced penalties much tighter during the regular season and the SPHL was no exception. There were almost two more minor penalties called each game, resulting in an increase of 110 power play goals and 35 shorthanded markers. Scoring increased by a total of 173 goals from last season, with almost 84% of them coming via special teams. Goalies may hate it, but look for the trend to continue in 2018-19.
9. I don’t get all worked up over the protected lists.
We’re going to get the teams’ 13-player protected lists soon, which is a newsworthy event here on the website. In most cases, less then half of the protected players wind up signing with their teams over the summer. I’m more interested in who doesn’t get named, especially if we get a new team in the Quad-Cities next season. Unlike Birmingham, who had the entire Cottonmouths’ roster to choose from in last year’s expansion draft, any expansion draft will resemble the additions of Evansville and Roanoke in 2016. If you want to read something interesting, check out last year’s opening night rosters and see how some teams changed (or didn’t change) during a season.
10. The Pensacola Bay Center still does not have a renovation/replacement plan.
While other SPHL venues are getting improvements over the next couple of years, the excessively-dated Pensacola Bay Center’s future remains in limbo. The 33-year-old facility is quickly approaching the end of its operational life, yet the Escambia (Fla.) County Commision once again punted a vote regarding a potential development to replace the home of the Ice Flyers. The people of Pensacola deserve better vision from their leaders.
11. Finally! Another SPHL-related podcast!
You know him as the voice of the Mississippi RiverKings. You may also know him as our reigning SPHL Broadcaster of the Year. He’s T.J. Chillot, and he’s starting up a RiverKings-focused podcast called Crown Talk. Go ahead and give it a listen. We need more of this new media around the league, and I’m glad T.J. is taking the ball and running with it.
12. Yanni/Laurel will not be the next great Internet debate of our time.
The dress is blue-and-black, the hot dog is not a sandwich, and we’ve already proven Right Twix is far superior to Left Twix. We’ll have to think of something else to debate, perhaps in another #SinBinUselessPoll.
Time for a Friday #SinBinUselessPoll
What’s the better Twix bar?
— Mike Campos (@SinBinSPHL) May 11, 2018
13. Claws Up!
Finally, some congratulations to the NAHL Shreveport Mudbugs on winning their first Robertson Cup National Championship. The NAHL is the second-highest level of junior hockey in the USA, and the Mudbugs won the championship in their second season in the league. Our congratulations go out to owner Tommy Scott, general manager Scott Muscutt, head coach & former Huntsville Havoc winger Karlis Zirnis, and all of the players and staff for a fantastic season.