There's an interesting aspect to the ECHL final standings this season that might spark some discussion.
The San Francisco Bulls qualified for the playoffs in the nine-team Western Conference with 59 points, which is fewer points than Kalamazoo, Wheeling, Trenton, Fort Wayne and Orlando earned in the 14-team Eastern Conference, and none of them made the playoffs.
Would the ECHL ever consider sending a team from the East to the West, or vice versa, if there was a similar point differential in the future? Maybe it will be discussed soon, perhaps informally at least.
``The playoff format for each season is proposed by and voted on by the Board of Governors,'' ECHL Director of Communications Joe Babik said. ``To my knowledge, a crossover option has not been proposed or discussed in the past.''
Maybe the travel costs would scare teams away because buying airfare and hotel rooms for an extended trip West or East would be very expensive with so little planning time. Then again, the chance to qualify for the playoffs may overcome that.
Another thing the ECHL might consider would be naming all-conference teams instead of all-league teams. The ECHL announced its first- and second-team selections this week.
The teams are selected in a vote of league and team officials and media members. If the league went to an all-conference format, voters would not have to consider voting for players they may not have seen play that season. It's possible they could watch the games on computer, but it's highly unlikely they'd have seen them in person, meaning they are likely voting for the all-star teams based mostly on statistics.
Babik said there has never been any discussion of all-conference teams.
``The postseason awards are covered in the League Bylaws, so those would need changed and/or amended to make any changes to the awards,'' he wrote.
Because there was an imbalance of teams, there was limited interconference play this season, such as when the Komets played three games at Colorado.
We need you
One thing Komets management has stressed this season was how it had to start with nothing in building this team. The ECHL does not hold an expansion draft for new teams, and the Komets were unable to protect any of their players from last year's Central Hockey League champions.
So why doesn't the ECHL hold expansion drafts for new teams?
``There has not been an expansion or dispersal draft since the late 1990s,'' Babik said. ``Every CBA (collective bargaining agreement) signed since then, including the new one going into effect starting next season, has not permitted either of these drafts to take place.''
That doesn't mean there won't be ECHL players available.
According to Babik, there are three lists during the offseason to serve as a winnowing down process. On June 1, teams will submit their Protected Lists, which is any player they own ECHL rights to. On June 15, the Season-Ending Roster is due which can contain no more than 20 players. Teams can start signing players for the following season June 16. By July 1, teams must submit their list of right Qualifying Offers. Any player signed between June 16 and July 1 does not need to be qualified.
A team can offer eight players qualifying offers, thus retaining rights for non-veterans for up to one year and for veterans until Aug. 1. After Aug. 1 veterans become restricted free agents and after Aug. 31 they are total free agents.
When the Komets released John Dunbar and Jeremy Gates recently to allow them to return to Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League, they suspended them because the players would not have to go through waivers and the Komets could retain their rights for next season.
Bet on 2023
The Komets won their first playoff championship in 1963 (followed by another in 1965) and won again in 1973. Despite finishing second during the 1982-83 regular season, the Komets lost in the playoff semifinals. They ended a 20-year streak without a championship with the remarkable sweep in 1993 and then won another title in 2003.
So 2013 falls into the donut hole of the pattern, meaning 2023 is going to be a very busy spring.
Where's the beef?
It seems of late, at least in games in Fort Wayne, ECHL linesmen were aggressively jumping in to break up fights before they got going instead of letting the players settle their differences. Was this a league mandate or policy?
``No, if two players are willing then we let them,'' Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst said via email. ``If two players are just yapping, then, yes, we get in middle, but by no means are they instructed to stop two willing players.''
Judging by the boos, there was a segment of the fans who'd rather the linesmen took a step back.
Technically, the linesmen are supposed to break up a fight when one player has a decided disadvantage such as when a smaller player is shoved against the boards or location of the fight is a problem, such as around the team benches.
Congrats to Davey
Former Komets coach Dave Allison (1999-2000) recently coached his 1,000th career pro game. He's currently leading Peoria of the American Hockey League.
It looks like the Rivermen are going to be looking for a new league as their NHL parent club, the St. Louis Blues, has notified the Carver Arena the team will not be playing there next season. The city may possibly return to the ECHL. The Rivermen played in the ECHL from 1996 to 2005 before moving to the AHL.
Another Sims coming up
Jordan Sims, the son of Komets coach Al Sims and his wife, Sue, just finished his junior season with the University of Connecticut team. The Fort Wayne native finished second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 31 points in 37 games. He plays on the Huskies' top forward line and has 79 points in 110 college games.
NHLPA helps Turnstone
The National Hockey League Players Association has donated 10 sets of equipment to help the Turnstone sled hockey program. The sets include helmets, sticks, sleds and protective pads. Turnstone had 25 sets of equipment before this, but much of the equipment was breaking down and had been in use since the program started in 2008.
Turnstone's intermediate team recently finished second at the national championships.
Icing the puck
The Komets finished with 2.85 goals per game, which ranks as the fourth-fewest in franchise history. The record is 2.72 goals per game in the 1996-97 season. The 2010-11 and 1956-57 Komets averaged 2.83 goals per game. ... The Komets led the ECHL with 7,583 fans per game to edge Ontario's 7,575 for the ECHL lead. Only Hershey, Providence and Chicago in the AHL averaged more fans. ... This is the 22nd consecutive year the Komets have drawn more than 250,000 fans. ... Brandon Marino finished sixth in the ECHL scoring race with 74 points. He was second in the league with 54 assists. ... Only four teams scored fewer first goals in games than the Komets. ... The Komets gave up 34 more power-play goals than they scored. Opponents also had 75 more power-play chances than the Komets.