The Federal Prospects Hockey League officially added its 10th team at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Delaware State Fair Grounds Center Ice Rink in Harrington, and for the most part it was pretty standard boiler plate stuff.
The team unveiled the name and logo, which had already been known for weeks, and also showed off the black jerseys they will be wearing this season. Apologies for the less than great shot, but it appears to be a black jersey with the head of Thor on it, and no yellow accents on the sleeves like some had wondered about when the new logo, shown in our graphic above, was discovered.
The main thing they announced was (again this was well known before the presser) was that Charlie Pens, who has had plenty of involvement with youth programs in the area, was announced as the team President and GM.
Aside from that, three really interesting nuggets were dropped by Pens that raised quite a few eyebrows from people in the hockey world, all of them coming after the presser was opened up for public questions from the roughly 75 or so people in attendance.
The first question came from a fan in the front row about the size of the building, or lack of. According to the State Fair website, the arena they plan to play in currently lists there being 350 permanent seats in the arena, WELL below the 1,500 minimum the league likes teams to have. Well, that fan asked if there were plans to expand the rink and add seating, which Pens then deflected and said something along the lines of, “If people come out and support us, there is the possibility of expansion,” and noting how they have the best fans in the league, which is quite a claim considering they haven’t had a home game yet. But did not flat out say or even hint that expansion of the seating area was coming for this season.
In a sidebar to this, Pens also noted that the team passed on a few of its picks in the recent FPHL expansion draft because, he wants to build a team with his player or something, which is also odd, given that it doesn’t cost anything or guarantee anything to take a player in the expansion draft.
So even with only 350 seats, it doesn’t sound like the team or the rink have plans to add seats for the upcoming season, which would be REALLY baffling and really limit the amount of fans, and money, coming into the team each home game. We’ll obviously keep you updated on any developments to this should this change.
UPDATE: A fan at the presser today confirmed to BLH that the arena will have seating that will hold more than 675 people. Still small, but not 350 small. We have also reached out to the team for more information on the arena and will update if we hear back.
The second thing, is that Pens confirmed that the FPHL is in fact moving to divisions this season, confirming what we had previously reported, that the East will be Delaware, Danbury, Elmira, and Watertown, while the West will be made up of Carolina, Columbus, Danville, Port Huron, and Mentor. The idea being to play your “regional” rivals more to try and cut down on travel costs as the league footprint continues to expand.
But, by far the biggest news that Pens dropped, and this may not have been something the league wanted, was that the league is currently discussing the possibility of a 10th team for the league this coming season.
Now, we at Bus League Hockey had heard this rumor, with the talk being that it would be run out of Battle Creek, Michigan, and that it would essentially be a league-controlled team with each current owner kicking in money to fund it for the season. But, the problem so far, is that reportedly, not every owner in the league is on-board with that idea, to sink around $20-30k into a team.
But, on the positive side, a 10th team would get the league up to an even number, and eliminate a number of schedule headaches that would come with an odd number, including teams either fully sitting out a weekend of play, or having to play more 3-game weekends to fill the schedule due to those potential off weekends.
If this 10th team does happen, it likely results in more shuffling of the divisions listed above, with the simplest solution probably being Mentor moving over to the East.
Again, this does not mean the team is on the way, but that the FPHL is discussing the possibility of adding a 10th team for this season. What may happen with the potential team beyond this season remains a question.
Currently, Battle Creek is set to be home to a team in the Interstate Hockey League, set to start this fall, and a league that has previously called out the FPHL, so this would certainly set up an interesting turf war if the 10th FPHL team does in fact happen. The FPHL has long had interest in Battle Creek, hosting neutral site games there in the past, and even being one of the hottest rumored expansion markets last off-season and regular season, before events beyond the FPHL’s control put an end to those thoughts until now.
Again, we’ll keep you updated on this story and any developments we here about this potential 10th team coming to the FPHL.
So Delaware is in, but the fun may not be over for FPHL expansion talk this off-season.
And for more information on the Delaware Thunder, feel free to visit their newly posted website.