As I was doing research for the Farm Report podcast, I came across this gem about the Syracuse Crunch being able to balance their schedule of practice and games. However, as great as that was to see when it comes to coaches and players intensity and the difference in scenarios and trying to get the aggression up– this little nugget that Lindsay Kramer put in there is something that really make me peak my interest:
The group is calling itself the Pacific Division.
Considering the philosophy behind the move, however, it might as well be labeled the Practice Division.
There’s strong rumblings that the five teams will play fewer than the current 76 regular-season games, maybe all the way down into the 60s.
The teams’ core belief is that fewer games means less travel time and more hours for practice. And lots of it.
Ignore, for the moment, the reality that three of those teams (Calgary/Glens Falls, Los Angeles/Manchester, San Jose/Worcester) are leaving successful markets that are already very short bus rides away from frequent opponents.
Out with scoreboards and fans. In with more whistles, drills and tutorials.
There had been a mention of it during the introduction that the Pacific Divisions could be playing a little under, but doesn’t seem like much came from it. Should the AHL actually go through with this, it has to be a black-eye to this whole move to the west coast with that few of teams. While I understand the whole idea behind the move to be closer to the parent club, to have an entire division play less games overall in the league because of distance isn’t what the top-developmental league should be doing with their new division and their new teams.
Hell, even the Alaska Aces have the same amount of games as the rest of the ECHL and they’re miles and miles away from their closest rival, which will get further next season with the current markets moving to the AHL.
One of the biggest hold-ups the AHL Pacific had was the fact that they wanted enough NHL teams to commit to the move in order to make it work without a hitch. Five teams are enough and the schedule may need to get effected to have those teams play each other over and over again, but to cut their schedule because of travel is a farce if it does go through the way Kramer says and how the AHL presented it briefly during the unveiling.
For the sake of the AHL and their fans– I hope this isn’t true. My hope is that there could be a lot of the Pacific playing each other with the other 25 teams rolling through on a west coast trip– but overall, they need to have the same amount of games as everyone else– especially with the NHL teams knowing the risk for putting their teams in those markets. It’s a terrible message for the second-highest pro league in North America to shorten a schedule for teams that voluntarily moved from their close confines to another. The risks were known and while the AHL could be protecting their Eastern teams with the travels– either drop the games across the board for all the teams or have the Pacific Division grin and bear the big travel they will have to endure. It wouldn’t be all bad and it could actually allow the players to adapt to travel in the NHL, as well.