Edmonton vs. Dallas Is Tonight. Why I Can Love Both Teams.

Since the Dallas Stars have been in existence I have been a fan. I couldn’t help myself. They scored a lot, won a lot, and played a passionate style of hockey. A fan first by geographic location, over time I learned to truly love the team southbound on I-35.

As the seasons rolled on there were teams that I grew to despise in those early days, teams that beat my Stars literally AND on the scoreboard. Although they were a winsome bunch most of the time, there were a few teams that really seemed to turn my smile into a scowl. One such team was the Edmonton Oilers.

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Major (Minor) League Football Potentially Coming To Oklahoma City

h/t to Eric Rodgers for much of the investigative reporting on this story.

You have probably never heard of Major League Football. Quite honestly, I am a fan of the pigskin, and I hadn’t heard of them either. The truth is, however, that there was been a burgeoning movement for a smallish, spring time, smaller city league that helps prop up the NFL in ways that perhaps the collegiate ranks can’t quite accomplish quickly. But if you live in Oklahoma City, and what appears to be seven additional cities throughout the US, MLF is something you are going to want to take a look at.

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‘Tis The Season For Rumors And Maybe Announcements (?)

The rumor mill has been churning out filth for years. I’m not talking about my sports market or yours, but the hypothetical one that exists in every 300,000+ city where sports is even slightly on the radar. I suppose that the economics of it all demand that owners look throughout the world to find sporting endeavors that spew money from a fire hydrant. I mean, there must be good money in sports franchising because these things exist. And where there is a slim chance of sports happenings, there is always a rumor of an owner or a team or the potential hope of both.

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The Farm Is Back (My Grandmother Is So Happy)

Hello faithful readers, and those who accidentally found our website via Googling “Farm Fresh Produce”, the blog is back(ish) with some major tweaks, a few deep thoughts, and some quibbles about cheap yarn from Michael’s. I hope you enjoy the ride, however lost you might be at this point.

A quick recap of the last six months wouldn’t be worth mentioning more than in brief, but since the fine people of Oklahoma City lost their pro AHL team (that was one of the best over that five year span) life has been a little sideways.

Since last we seriously highlighted serious pro hockey on this site, our lovely OKC Barons were ending their five year cycle of farming the Edmonton Oilers. They were packing up, heading West, and hopefully steering clear of TMZ reporters (retracted). The team was incredibly well-rounded at that time, and equally as well-coached. The five year run was short, sweet, and magically delicious. Yet we were forced to move on.

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The New AHL Schedule Format, and Things To Consider

You’ve most likely heard or seen about it by now, but just in case you haven’t, the rumors became truth in regards to the unbalanced schedule in the American Hockey League next season. Yes, I know I’m a week behind, but hey, I just got married. That’s a good excuse, right?

So anyway, we now know that the five California-based teams (Bakersfield, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton, Ontario) will play 68 games next season, while the remaining 25 AHL teams will play 76 games. We already knew that the California-based teams will be in the same division as the Texas-based teams, making it even a little bit more odd in that teams in the same division will be playing a different standard of games.

In order to combat that, the AHL announced that teams will be ranked by points percentage to determine playoff seedings, meaning that a California-based team will percentage points in a win, or lose more in a loss than any of the other teams in the league. The interesting change will be to see how the league determines tie-breakers for next season. In the three other divisions, it won’t matter much as they will have played the same amount of games. But for the Pacific Division, if Stockton were to tie with Texas, a tie-breaker of Regulation+OT Wins would be heavily weighted towards Texas.

The other interesting dynamic will come in the form of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the AHL and the PHPA. Players on AHL contracts will earn more money per game if they play for a California team, but also, they’ll face eight less games to affect their veteran status. Currently, if a player has played 260 or more professional games at the beginning of the season, they are considered a veteran. If they sit at 259 at the start of the season, they do not become one once the season begins.

Now, let’s take a player sitting at 190 games as an example. If he were to play an ironman season for the Chicago Wolves, playing in every single game of the season, he would end the season at 266 games and therefore making him a vet for the 2016-17 season. With the currently six-veteran limit on teams, it makes him a bit harder to place in the AHL. But, if he were to do the same thing for the Ontario Reign, he’d only be at 258 games and wouldn’t have to be constrained by the veteran status in 2016-17. With the CBA negotiations on-going for next season, it’ll be another interesting dynamic to see how or if it’s addressed.

Making a return next season with the now-four division league, is the crossover rule for the playoffs. The Oklahoma City Barons saw the benefits to this rule in the 2010-11 season, using it to make the playoffs in that season. The crossover allows the fifth place team in an eight-team division (the Atlantic and Central divisions this season) has a higher points percentage than the fourth place team in the seven-team division (the North and Pacific, respectively), the fifth place team crosses over and competes in the playoff in that bracket.

To describe that in simpler terms, we’ll use the Barons in 2011 as an example. The Barons finished in fifth place of the West Division with 91 points. The Abbotsford Heat finished in fourth place of the North Division with 86 points. Since the Barons finished higher, they moved over to the North Division bracket and took on the first seed Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round. To make mention of an earlier point, the tie-breaks will be interesting to look at next season.

It certainly looks odd next season, but as AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews told Sean Shapiro, nothing is set in stone beyond this season. More changes may be coming our way in 2016-17.

The AHL announces 2015-16 division alignment

With only one game on the American Hockey League schedule tonight, the AHL added news to the schedule as well as they announced the divisional alignment for the 2015-16 season. We already knew that the California teams would be a part of a new Pacific Division, but we weren’t quite sure what the makeup of it would be. Today, we got to find out.

A six-division league for the past few seasons, the biggest change now has the league returning to a four-division set-up. Gone are the West, East, Northeast, and Midwest divisions as they get replaced by the Pacific and Central divisions. The North division moves to the Eastern Conference and joins the Atlantic division.

As Manchester, Norfolk, and Worcester move to the West, the league moved Rochester, Utica, and Toronto to the East. The other interesting move has San Antonio and Texas joining the California teams in the Pacific Division.

Here’s how it now breaks down:

Atlantic Division: Bridgeport, Hartford, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Portland, Providence, Springfield, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

North Division: Albany, Binghamton, Rochester, St. John’s, Syracuse, Toronto, Utica.

Central Division: Charlotte, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Iowa, Lake Erie, Manitoba, Milwaukee, Rockford.

Pacific Division: Bakersfield, Ontario, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton, Texas.

With the rumors of the Pacific Division only playing 68 games next season, it’ll be interesting to see if Texas and San Antonio are included or if it will apply to the entire league. Interesting offseason on the way.