CHL to be center of attention for QC

Originally Posted Online: May 27, 2010, 8:35 pm
Last Updated: May 27, 2010, 11:49 pm
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By Matt Veto, mveto@qconline.com

There are a few reasons the Central Hockey League brands itself as "The Center of Hockey." For Quad City Mallards fans, the league soon will be the center of attention.

It's obvious that the Central Hockey League teams are primarily central in terms of geography, and it will remain that way when six International Hockey League clubs -- including the Mallards -- join the league for the 2010-11 season.

However, CHL commissioner Duane Lewis says he also sees the league as the center for hockey players.

"Players come up to our level, and move on from our level," Lewis said. "We're at the center of the country. We're right in the middle of everything. But players that come up with us, we think they're the focal point of that respect."

Lewis did not confirm the expansion, but did confirm conversation with the IHL. According to an unnamed source close to the discussion, the deal is done, pending an official announcement next week. In 2010-11, the CHL will be made up of 19 to 20 teams, depending on further expansion. The conference alignment will be determined during league meetings next week.

The CHL is administered by WPHL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Entertainment Corporation (GEC), which is a publicly traded company under the stock symbol GNTP. In April 2000, Global acquired all outstanding shares of the Western Professional Hockey League. In May 2001, the WPHL and CHL merged under the CHL moniker.

On its website, GEC describes itself as "an integrated event and entertainment company that is engaged -- through its wholly owned subsidiaries -- in sports management, multipurpose events center development, facility and venue management and marketing, and venue ticketing." GEC is primarily focused on projects in mid-size communities.

Teams within the publicly owned league are owned privately.

Lewis said the public ownership and those versatile services boost the CHL operation.

Through its International Coliseums Company (ICC) subsidiary, GEC builds arenas in target markets, fills the arena with a team, and sells the team to investors. The CHL Missouri Mavericks (Independence, Mo.) and Allen (Texas) American joined the league in this fashion in 2009.

"It's allowed our entire company to grow," Lewis said. "We have subsidies that help the CHL with arena building. We have food services, ticket service, facility management, marketing -- all of these things allow us to expand into markets that may not be there otherwise. It allows us to be proactive and get things done."

Players in the CHL are unionized through the Professional Hockey Player's Association. Lewis said the current collective bargaining agreement is subject to change during league meetings this week. However, in 2009-10, the league salary cap was $10,450 a week and the floor was $8,400. Teams were allowed to roster 19 players (outside of injured resere) and dressed 18. They could carry four veteran players (301 games) and had to have five "development" players that have played 128 or fewer.

The league operates under NHL rules and regulations with a "few minor tweaks," Lewis said. There is one referee.

In 2009-10, 10 teams made the playoffs. Teams seeded 4 and 5 played each other in an opening round, best-of-3 series. The conference semifinals and finals were best-of-7n series, and the Ray Miron Presidents' Cup series, between the winners of the Northern and Southern Conference finals, was a best-of-7.

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