The second-ever Bus League Hockey reader Q&A!

Summer rolls along, and since we had so much fun with the first round of question guys asked, we decided to do it again!

And the questions did not disappoint, with everything from Rosie O’Donnell, to pro wrestling, and even NASCAR on the docket!

Here’s your questions, as well as Shawn and I’s answers.

Q1

ROVITZ: Well, I’m an NAHL season ticket holder and /checks schedule/ crap the home-opener for my team is September 15, which is the weekend of my bachelor party. So, unless I’m able to move that, I’ll be drinking beers with friends and checking my phone for score updates. Seriously, this question just ruined my day since it made me realize I won’t be in town for the first game. I’m a bad fan.

As for the other leagues, probably not much, but on NHL Opening Night, October 3 for those of you wondering, I will probably just order some pizza, sit back in the chair and watch as many games as I possibly can.

The one game I would really like to see this year outside of the more recognized leagues in the USA, would be the Humboldt Broncos home-opener this season, certain to be the most emotional night of the hockey season no matter the league.

SHAWN:

October 19 is opening night for me and my professional hockey career, as I get to call my first game as the voice of the Fayetteville Marksmen! As someone who has kept their eye on independent hockey for YEARS, and covered the FHL and SPHL for the last couple, along with calling hockey all through college, this is an unbelievably exciting opening night.

The Marksmen actually kick off the entire SPHL season, so that gets to take care of two birds for me. It’s also our home opener, so that’s like a hat-trick of luck.

I’ll be wanting to watch the AHL season opening debut for the ECHL’s former champion Colorado Eagles, because the jump always excites me.

Finally, I’ll be keeping a close eye on FHL opening night, especially after the off-season that we’ve covered. Believe their tentative opener is October 26, and should be Carolina-Elmira. Which is even better.

Q2

ROVITZ: This is a great question, and one I keep going back and forth on. I would love to see a pro wrestling-type league simply for the insane characters and storylines, but then you have worries about the legitimacy of the league and if the results aren’t pre-determined, because nobody would go see hockey if they knew their team was going to lose all the time. Just ask the Arizona Coyotes HEYOOOOOOO. Because as we all know, wrestling isn’t fake, it’s just pre-determined.

So I guess if you want the more legitimate league, like I would, it would be NASCAR, but I don’t know how that would work, or how you would have the two cross over. Maybe you try to add-in elements of the old Roller Derby and you have the players race in a ring, while passing pucks and trying to score on goalies at various points on the rink? I seriously can’t think of a way that it would work, unless of course you just mean having 43 teams, 38 of which have shot at winning because they don’t have any money.

SHAWN:

This is easily the most unexpected question we’ve received. The Federal Hockey League at times seems like a taste of what a storyline-driven scripted WWE-esque league would look like, and GOD I would be OVERLY attentive to a drama-based hockey league like that. In a way, having the truly unpredictable nature of these leagues is unbeatable…but getting to have them put together properly with characters, heels and heroes, and storylines like we’ve gotten in WWE history – wow.

The promos for this would be amazing. I don’t care. PLEASE make Scott Brand the owner and commissioner of this beautiful idea. It’d be bigger than WWE.

Next, a question from our old friend, Tux!

Q3

ROVITZ: Well the obvious answer is you, Tux. But since we don’t want to play favorites here, I’ll go with Skates of the Chicago Wolves, simply for this stunning display, the most amazing pre-game intros I’ve ever seen in any sport at any level.

An intro like that is worth the price of admission alone. More mascots need to shoot fireworks out of them somehow, I bet it’s not at all dangerous.

SHAWN:

What a massive question. It goes without saying, Tux is far and away the favorite among us here at BLH, and that can’t be changed. He’s a strong favorite for my favorite. I’ve met Grif (Grand Rapids) a few times though, and from stories from a friend of mine in his time with the Griffins as an intern, Grif is a savage.

I don’t say that lightly.

This friend of mine accidentally hit a fan in the face with a tee shirt out of the cannon, and Grif was rather proud of his debut.

Outside of that, Chubby Bear is a close friend of my team’s mascot Marky. Chubby Bear is hilariously well-done. He’s just a large, round bear.

Q4

ROVITZ: AS THE JUNIOR HOCKEY EXPERT ON THIS BLOG THIS IS RIGHT IN MY WHEELHOUSE. It’s a complicated question, because at the top, aka, any league that is free to play or charges a reasonable amount to play, no. Leagues like the USHL, NAHL, BCHL, AJHL (we’re talking junior here, not major junior like the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL, that’s a whole different beast) and a couple of others do things very well, put out a great product, and do their best to promote players to higher leagues or college, so in those leagues I don’t think much change is needed.

But when you get to leagues like the NA3HL or GMHL or WSHL, basically leagues that try to get you to pony-up $7-8k a season to play, then you need changes.

If I were in charge of North American hockey I’d get rid of any pay-to-play junior league that charges a crazy fee like that. They are a grift out for one thing: money. And really, if you’re paying that much for a season of hockey, you’re probably not a major prospect and are better of staying close to home and playing AAA or high school hockey for a quarter of the price.

Now, since that probably isn’t happening, because again, money, the one change I’d make if I ran hockey in the USA is change the starts of the season for the USHL, NAHL, and NA3HL. Currently the NA3 starts first, then the NAHL a couple of weeks later, then the USHL a couple weeks after that. I’d flip them so the USHL started first, and the NA3 was last, this way you get a trickle-down of talent. Guys cut from the USHL after their two-week cut downs, can go to the NAHL, guys cut from the NAHL can go to the NA3. Now the issue with that is the USHL is the premier league in the country, and wants prime dates a little later in the season so they aren’t going up against football as much, so I don’t know how you would make that compromise.

SHAWN:

Diversity is crucial here. The USHL and NAHL are incredible, well-run leagues that have proud alumni at the highest levels. Their development is outstanding, and having two Tier I/II alumni in my family I can truly speak to a testament on that.

That being said. EVERY league below the NAHL is unfairly poorly ran, sketchy, unaffiliated, or useless. Junior Hockey is meant as the ultimate development tool for students of the game, and shows the difference between men and boys.

However, that doesn’t mean late-blooming talent or those who need more development should be left in the dark of the NA3HL or…below.

With a few exceptions (GMHL), the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues are all outstanding, Province to Province. There’s no reason that USA Hockey can’t compete with that, except for the fact that they top-load the USHL/NAHL with funding, talent, promotion, and legitimacy. The rest are left in the dirt. That’s not fair to so many talented players.

I think if I were the Hockey Czar, I would combine the CHL idealism, success, promotion, and marketing, with the USHL/NAHL model of player development and marketing.

There needs to be more high-level junior hockey in the west coast, where hockey is still a hot commodity, and few professional hockey teams (and no Indy) have made their way. I think the NAHL could be split up, and have some join the WHL, some join the USHL, some join the OHL, and some join the QMJHL.

OR the USHL and NAHL combine, add the NA3HL and affiliate another low-league, and create the Stateside Hockey League, ran exactly like the CHL. Then make like the USPHL (shudders) into an OJHL type feeder league.

As for minor league hockey…this is going to sound odd, but I think once the FHL stabilizes and can grow, and the SPHL continues to gain legitimacy and grow, they’ll both be sound and perfect representation of hockey at every level. Yes, I know that sounds nuts, but you have one league per level right now, and that keeps the talent pool higher.

Q5

ROVITZ: Lord alive. Those are some interesting choices. Well, let’s start with who we wouldn’t pick. Hulkster is out because he’s a racist, and hockey is for everybody. John Wayne Gacy is also out because well, we don’t want a murderer running the show, because what happens if he gets caught and arrested during the season? Then we’re scrambling for a replacement.

So that leaves us Rosie and JJ Abrams. Abrams seems like the obvious choice because of all the success he’s had running things like LOST and Star Wars, but he seems like someone who would go for the flashy signings and forget about the little things, or stuff that isn’t as exciting like goalies and defense, so you’d have a fun team , but you probably aren’t winning it all with him at the helm.

That brings us to Rosie. Now, a google search reveals that Rosie has no experience in hockey, and her athletic experience was in baseball, as we all remember in the documentary ‘A League of Their Own.’ So if you want someone who has experience dealing with pro athletes and understands what it takes to put together a complete roster (remember her team made the Women’s World Series before a violent running of the catcher cost the Rockford Peaches the decisive game, a play that would not be allowed in 2018), and to set egos aside, Rosie is the pick.

SHAWN:

For me, this is a slugfest between J.J. Abrams & Hulk Hogan. Hogan is, STILL, TO THIS DAY, arguably the face of pro wrestling. An electric promoter, the most quotable man in the sports history, what every kid wanted to play as in WWE games, he’s the Hulkster. He’s Hollywood. He’s THE Hulk-a-Mania. Honestly, I don’t know what this would look like. Hey-day hulk Hogan was an instant ratings blockbuster. Heck, still to this day if he returned to WWE for some reason, I’d watch every episode. I imagine Hogan would be a mix of Scott Brand, whoever that Danbury Trashers owner was, and Jackie Moon as a GM. There’d be a crazy promotion every night, blockbusters trades, unexpected rebrands, and the team would be one of the most dynamic in all of hockey. He knows how to inspire, he could have success.

NOW, on to J.J., who garnered massive success with The Force Awakens because he put on screen what everyone happily remembered and just rehashed it. J.J. would run his team on old-time hockey idealisms, and honestly would run a team the age and name recognition of the ’02 Wings…minus the salary (because of Salary Cap). J.J. has a bit of a Midas Touch, and could take a franchise that started off as the greatest thing to ever be seen, who had an awful drop off, and make them great again based on what worked the first time. That’s right, you guessed it – J.J. Abrams for Toronto Maple Leafs GM.

Until of course, that vision and success is RUINED by Rian Johnson, leaving Abrams responsible for helping to clean up the mess. But, I digress.

On-ice success and fan stability? Advantage WAY Abrams.

Promotions, viralness, and general excitement/financial success from fan growth? Advantage WAY Hogan.

I’ve gotta give this one to Abrams.

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