***Please note that this is not at all based in fact, but just me rambling after sitting around last night and wondering why the hell someone would make a UHL website and promise a revival, only to have absolutely ZERO news since the site launched last fall.***
With it being the middle of summer and hockey in the pro ranks about three months away, there is still absolutely ZERO news about the return of the United Hockey League.
The discovery of the website caused a ton of excitement and just as many questions, because in an already crowded hockey market, what place would the revived UHL have with the USHL, NAHL, FHL and SPHL in almost all of their previous markets?
We previously wondered what the heck was going on with the attempted revival, and since that post have gotten absolutely ZERO information back from those behind the league. We signed up for the league’s UHL Insider Newsletter…and haven’t gotten a single email or piece of news since we did that. We reached out via email, nothing. No updates to the website or Twitter page since it launched?
Well I think I’ve figured it out, and bear with me here.
As we previously noted, the league trademarks are reportedly owned by Joe Pace, who is the head coach (or player/assistant coach depending on which Joe Pace you are talking about, because there are two) of the Port Huron Prowlers of the Federal Hockey League.
The Prowlers are owned by Barry Soskin, who also owns the Danville Dashers and the Carolina Thunderbirds, the three most successful teams in the FHL at least in terms of attendance.
My thought is that Pace bought or held the UHL trademarks (or maybe bought them for Soskin so his name wasn’t on them, which are easily found with Google?), and mentioned the idea of bringing back the UHL to Barry Soskin, thinking that the writing was on the wall for the Federal Hockey League after the season wrapped up.
UPDATE: A search on the US Trademark site brings up that the UHL trademark is active, filed in 2016 and owned by Pro Hockey Group in Northbrook, Illinois. The name of Barry Soskin’s ownership group? Pro Hockey LLC.
Now, let’s go back to the start of the 2017-18 FHL season. It was rumored from the start that the Cornwall Nationals were running out of money, which proved true when the team folded halfway through the season, they still had the North Shore Knights at the time, which everybody agrees is a gong show and only there to get to six teams, and the Watertown Wolves, who were owned and operated by Don Kirnan, AKA, the league after local ownership in Watertown wanted out.
So from an outsiders perspective, and possibly Soskin’s looking down the road at the potential writing on the wall for the FHL, that leaves you with potentially just three teams after the 2017-18 season ends, all owned by the same guy, and that is hardly a hockey league. You would need at least three more teams for the league to be allowed to have import players, so the FHL and Soskin were staring at having three teams owned by the same guy, and nobody else to play against, and facing the challenge of trying to find at least three new markets in one off-season.
My thinking is that Soskin and Pace potentially had plans to take his three teams, basically bail on the corpse of this potentially dead version of the FHL after half of its teams folded (that hasn’t been the case as Watertown still remains active and there are supposed to be two expansion teams and a schedule coming soon), and start their own league, the revived UHL.
Why would he do this? It’s pretty simple, and it goes back to that need to get to six teams, with Soskin already owning three, a strong start for a potential new league.
The FHL has VERY negative connotations around the hockey world, and with good reason for some of its past ideas and markets. Teams that tried to play an entire season outdoors, teams in towns with less than 10,000 people in them, or rinks that only had 600 seats, North Shore, and many more stories that potential towns could easily look up if they were interested in a team, see those stories and think, “Nah, we don’t need a team in town associated with this league.”
And that’s where the UHL revival and brand comes into play.
Again, you need six teams for import players to be allowed to “work” as players. And if you speak to potential markets and say that they’ll be in the United Hockey League, which brings up much more positive results when you search online for it, and suddenly more potential owners and towns might think it’s a good idea to hitch their wagon to a more reputable league, as opposed to the FHL. And it also may help bring back former UHL markets that had teams like Danbury, Richmod, Ashville, Dayton, Elmira, and tons of others that may not join something like the FHL.
Combine that with the three Soskin teams and you have a great pitch to the three towns that you need to get to a six-team league. “Hey we have three strong teams already, we’re just looking for three more for this league to start up!” is a lot easier than trying to start an entirely brand new six-team league from the ground up in less than a year’s time.
But somewhere along the line, the plan got derailed. Maybe they realized its easier and cheaper to have someone else in charge running a league? And maybe Soskin and Co. are happy to just have their three teams lead the league in attendance and make money off that, as opposed to having to try to oversee and entire league and potentially lose money on all that goes into that.
I really don’t know, and maybe we never will, but it seems insanely weird to me that a website, twitter and Facebook page for a much-loved hockey league would pop-up, only for their to be nothing but silence from all of those pages since Day 1.
I’m probably completely wrong on a lot of this, but it’s the only reason semi-reasonable explanation I could come up with for why it came back, and why there’s probably not going to be a league this fall.