5 Questions – the CHL, drug-resistant bacteria, and returning players (Bartl’s Blog)

5. How is hockey like a drug-resistant bacteria? I’ll explain. It continually builds up a resistance to change. In baseball they can just change the ball or allow its players to juice up beyond belief and without a doubt, it changes the game. In football, just implement a few new rules and all of a sudden a running/power game turns into a passing league. But in hockey, no matter what rules it puts in place or what maneuvers they make to try to open the game up, it still turns into a battle of defense and goaltenders. That’s what hockey is.

Today’s NHL isn’t that much different than the one that existed pre-lockout. But if you recall the years immediately after the lockout, there was a distinctly different game being played. Clutching and grabbing has returned, because it’s almost impossible not to grab someone, or use your stick (the only real tool a player has) to impede someone. Expecting otherwise is like expecting soccer players to stop tripping their opponents.

Every effort to open the game up over the years has been met by a defensive system with a good goaltender. Stop trying to change it.

4. When is Opening Night for the Condors? I can’t tell you, but I have seen a version of the 2012-13 schedule, which is likely to change many times before it’s ready for release. Traditionally we have a schedule to announce sometime around early June, and I’m not really at liberty to discuss anything until the final version is approved.

For instance, I can neither confirm nor deny that an Eastern Conference team is coming to Rabobank Arena this season. I can neither confirm nor deny that our first game of the season is expected to be on the road against a new team. Nor can I confirm or deny that the Condors have an East Coast swing in January to a couple locations in warmer climes. I can’t confirm or deny any of these things.

3. What is the most number of players the Condors have brought back from the previous season? As far as my memory and the record book could tell me, the answer is 12, in 2006-07. I’ll clarify: 12 players played for the 2006-07 team that also played at least one game for the 2005-06 team. Whether they were all technically “returning” signings is another question, but for argument’s sake, that’s how I counted it. The 2007-08 team brought back 11 players from the previous season.

Last season the Condors brought back three players, one more than in 2004-05; and the least amount ever brought back was one player (Andrew Ianiero), in 2009-10. That was the season the Ducks told us they were sending us over 10 players. It’s usually 6-8 players returning, and this off-season could challenge that 2006-07 squad’s mark of 12.

2. Is the CHL going to have a reigning champion next season? If you believe the rumors, which are running rampant, this could be the second straight season the Central Hockey League loses its league champion during the off-season. Last year, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs up and folded after hoisting the Presidents Cup. This season, rumors abound about the Fort Wayne Komets joining the ECHL. The Komets ousted the Wichita Thunder in Game 5 last night.

The Komets would be a nice fit for the division that includes Toledo, Cincinnati and Kalamazoo, especially considering the recent departure of the Chicago Express. It would return four teams to that division. I guess it could be worse for the CHL, who is actually adding a team in Denver… last season they lost BOTH teams that reached the finals, with the Colorado Eagles bolting as well after losing to the Bugs.

1. When is there going to be just one big ‘AA’ hockey league? Speaking of the CHL… I’ve been in favor of this for a while. It can be done. It should be done. Regionally it would help several teams. It would bring these leagues into balance. And it might even save some clubs from extinction.

How much would it save Colorado to have a one-hour road trip into Denver a few times a year? Maybe a three-game series there would save them the cost of a $15,000 trip to Alaska. Arizona could bus to Ontario and Vegas and eliminate at least two flights per season. One flight into Dallas (an easy, cheap flight) and the Condors could kill five or six road games against Allen, Tulsa and the Brahamas. I’m sure Kalamazoo wouldn’t mind busing to Evansville, Fort Wayne and Quad City instead of making the 12-hour trek to Greenville a couple times. And Boise, Loveland and Salt Lake City are all closer to Rapid City than any team they played in 2011-12.

The only drawback I can see might come from the players perspective, as one big league would limit their opportunities to change teams and markets, but that’s an easy fix, and besides, in order to do that you have to have teams and markets to play in. And I think this would help everyone stay healthy. It’s time for this discussion to be had.


Kevin Bartl is the VP of Communications and part of the broadcast team, entering his 10th season with the Condors. His blog comes out every Tuesday, or whenever he feels like it. Follow him for not-always-about-hockey thoughts on twitter @KevinBartl.