Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rumored ECHL/CHL Merger Talks Too Late For Youngstown

Apparently, the East Coast Hockey League and the 7-member Central Hockey League were in talks to merge the latter into the former's ranks. According to ProHockeyTalk,'s hockey news commentary section, the two organizations have been in discussions that would end up increasing the ECHL's membership to 29 teams, one less than the American Hockey League.

The AHL currently has the distinction of being the only "major" minor league hockey organization with ties to all 30 NHL clubs. A merger between the ECHL and CHL would put them closer to reaching the possibility of poroviding a league-wide afilliation with the NHL as well.

If the CHL sounds familiar to you, that's because the now-defunct Youngstown Steelhounds were a member of that League. Owner Herb Washington (if memory serves), petitioned to join the ECHL before, during and after the club's existence. The team would have favored the lighter travel schedule that the team would endure, the costs associated with that travel and could have benefitted from competing against more local teams like the Wheeling Nailers, the Lake Erie Monsters, Toledo Walleye and the Cincinatti Cyclones.

The Steelhounds folded after the 2008-09 season after being expelled by the CHL.

While seeing more hockey in the Valley would be welcome to most who read this site, the return of the Steelhounds, at this point is unlikely. That ship has unfortunately sailed. For now.

Obviously, this post doesn't directly concern the Phantoms or the USHL, but I did find the topic to be relevant to hockey in the Valley nonetheless.

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