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An Early Look at Potential VHLE Franchises


Victor
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Alright, who's ready for some potential VHLE team hype? We are going to go down memory lane to see which logos and franchises have a shot at coming back to the VHL after 20 or 30 seasons in the abyss and assess the early favourites and the longshots.

 

Vasteras Iron Eagles

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Up first it's Vasteras. I think it would be one of the upsets of the year, although very fitting for Vasteras, if this is not the landslide winner of the vote. This should be one of the few instances where there will be a united front between the hardcore Vasteras fans and the members who thought the Vasteras experiment had run its course but retain a soft spot for the franchise.

 

As a quick recap, Vasteras is an iconic franchise for a variety of largely wrong reasons. Founded as the Vasteras IK, a straight rip-off of an existing Swedish hockey franchise, the team drafted Scotty Campbell in S1 and famously won the inaugural Continental Cup, defeating the record-setting 69-3 Calgary Wranglers. After Calgary avenged their defeat in a rematch in S2, Vasteras went on an infamous run – making only one further finals appearance before S26, and this was during a brief sojourn as the ill-fated Madrid Thunder. The franchise returned to Vasteras in S21, now under the Iron Eagles moniker and soon under that clean logo you can see above. S26 ended the longest cup drought in VHL history but embarked on an even longer one, although from S41 the team moved to Stockholm (more on that franchise in a second).

 

Although to this day no franchise has matched either of Vasteras' lengthy cup droughts (New York and Davos are getting close though), the city was home to several big names over the years. Campbell started his career as noted above, with the likes of Mike Szatkowski, James Bencharski, and Tukka Reikkinen lighting up Vasteras in the seasons to come. During their time, highly respected members such as Sterling, Tyler, Damien (muffins), Corco, and solas represented the Vasteras brand well and have kept the memory alive such that I think this is one of the VHLE favourites.

 

Bratislava Watchmen

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From unsuccessful, possibly cursed, but well-liked in some circles, we go to very successful and why were they contracted again? Bratislava's contraction in S53 is in my eyes one of the biggest mistakes the VHL has ever made and a large reason for the VHLM's North American shift, as it, along with Bern's move to Las Vegas, left Oslo as the minor league's only European representative. Coming into the VHLM as part of the S31 expansion, Bratislava was created by future Builder Vince Wong (future Helsinki and NY GM) and won 2 cups in his 6 season tenure – the Watchmen eventually won 7 in 23 seasons of existence which as I'm sure you'll appreciate is an incredible record.

 

In addition, after Wong Bratislava was at various times run by Blake Campbell and Benjamin Zeptenbergs – two names you'll recognise as they've been in charge of Seattle and Riga forever and are also both in the Hall of Fame. Great GMs lent themselves to great players passing through Bratislava – the likes of Thomas Landry, Davey Jones, Niklas Lindberg, Jody 3 Moons, and Pietro Maximoff started out as Watchmen – i.e. some of the earliest VHL experiences of Trifecta, Doomsday, Boubabi, and Gorlab, among others. Anyway, Bratislava won the Founder's Cup in S52, literally a season before someone decided to get rid of the franchise and for this injustice they will definitely be my first vote into the VHLE.

 

Stockholm Vikings

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The cursed child of Vasteras. Despite not being the successful new chapter that Riga, Davos, and New York were for their franchises, the Vikings came into the league with a great logo and left with plenty of goodwill. Two trips to the finals in just 17 seasons is better than what Vasteras could muster in the previous 38, but in the end the Vikings couldn't get over the hump falling in two finals to New York and it was an easy choice to contract.

 

I don't really have much of a fond connection to Stockholm and the fact they peaked in the late 40s and early 50s means they're associated with the league disparity of the time, Project Player Two, and just general pessimism. I do think the Vikings brand deserves a second shot and a potential Swedish rivalry with Vasteras is intriguing plus I think lots of people will vote for this option anyway.

 

Cologne Express

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Once associated with Quebec as one of the first expansion teams in the VHL, since S57 Cologne has sadly been forever linked to Stockholm as one of two unlucky contracted franchises. The Express were the slower starters compared to the Meute, but in S42 won a championship at the expense of Quebec, and with the likes of Kameron Taylor and Thomas O'Malley being some of their homegrown talents, Cologne was definitely a desirable destination. Things soured after that though and the Express made only one more finals appearance after the O'Malley era, becoming known for a ludicrously good Joel Jarvi season in S53 and then infamously for being managed into the ground by Scott Anderson.

 

The lack of a German team in the VHL despite coming so close in the S73 expansion might make Cologne slightly more appealing than Stockholm. I would personally expect both to make it into the VHLE but if it came down to it I might edge towards Cologne. CHOO CHOO.

 

Bern Royals

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Davos' old affiliate, the Royals controversially moved to Las Vegas in the 50s because someone let Robbie Zimmers make decisions, although the Aces seem to be a decent VHLM franchise and Bern was always a bit forgettable. I don't really how strong feelings about the Royals, except maybe that the name doesn't make too much sense for Switzerland, but I do like Bern as a location and think Swiss hockey deserves more representation both for its prevalence in VHL history and its real life growth over the past decade or so.

 

Bern would be one of the teams I would probably vote for but maybe leave the name open to suggestions as long it suited the logos. I do however think a regal team in the VHLE would be very welcome.

 

Turku Outlaws

 

This is actually a difficult one to support because 1) they didn't win anything and 2) I can't actually find their logo. I know it was a dark green with black type scheme which is fairly redundant if Cologne makes its way back into the VHLE as I suspect it will. Plus Turku's stay in the VHLM was very brief, with Kolari having won in S30 and Turku being disbanded at the end of S42 – so there really isn't much history to call on. Really Turku's best hope is taking someone else's logo purely on the basis of being a good Finnish location and in my opinion superior to Kolari.

 

Kolari Panthers

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The problem with the Panthers in the meantime is the tiny little town they are based in, as well as a logo I am not convinced is actually ours (but it might be). I know there is a reasonably sized support for Kolari in the league, mainly from members who remember the franchise from the 20s, but it could be a tough sell. I will touch on two other potential options now before suggesting what might be a solution for the Turku/Kolari/other location dilemma.

 

The Gladiators and the Red Wolves

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We then have two fine logos which don't quite work for the VHLE. One is for the Minot Gladiators, a franchise contracted back in S42 along with Turku and based in North Dakota. That was quite a controversial decision at the time, as Minot had a good history, especially as Calgary's affiliate, and was also the hometown of the recently passed away 701 who was a vocal critic of their contraction. There is no real reason to bring back Minot but the Gladiators might have life yet – either as a logo for either Turku or Kolari or perhaps another location such as Gothenburg or Oslo, both of which were well-liked and successful VHLM franchises.

 

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The Red Wolves in the meantime is possibly not the most ground-breaking logo but adds a nice bit of red to the league and would most likely have to move elsewhere within Russia, given Moscow now has a successful franchise in the VHL. That's fine though – Russia is obviously a massive hockey nation and can be represented with more than 1 team across the leagues. Certainly these two logos provide a bit of flexibility with the team options.

 

With that in mind however, there is a possibility that a brand new logo is the approach to take, rather than pulling together scraps to form a 6th (or 5th) VHLE franchise. If I was a betting man I would say Vasteras, Stockholm, Cologne, and Bratislava are four slam-dunk and in fact excellent selections for revival. Bern might sneak in by default either. The sixth selection is open to interpretation however and perhaps there is time for someone to approach the VHLE with a real game-changer of a franchise.

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Bratislava is my fave! I really like that gladiators logo too. Could use that and come up with a European home for it.

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7 minutes ago, Victor said:

The Red Wolves in the meantime is possibly not the most ground-breaking logo but adds a nice bit of red to the league and would most likely have to move elsewhere within Russia, given Moscow now has a successful franchise in the VHL. That's fine though – Russia is obviously a massive hockey nation and can be represented with more than 1 team across the leagues. Certainly these two logos provide a bit of flexibility with the team options.

 

САНКТ-ПЕТЕРБУРГ КРАСНЫЕ ВОЛКИ

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Posted (edited)

Would be cool to see Oslo return as a location, although they’d have to use a different name (Storm already in use, Screaming Seamen and Naggerwolves are probably self explanatory). Also I’d love to see Bratislava back.

Edited by solas
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5 minutes ago, solas said:

Would be cool to see Oslo return as a location, although they’d have to use a different name (Storm already in use, Screaming Seamen and Naggerwolves are probably self explanatory). Also I’d love to see Bratislava back.

Screamin Seamen

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None of these are really that amazing, you guys are just so stuck on the nostalgia of former teams.  Sure some of the locations should return but I’d like to see more new ones tossed in, with some total logo revamps/refreshes to modernize the new league.

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24 minutes ago, bigAL said:

Pardon? Was this a thing?

I think so, or at least it had a lot of traction TO be a thing.

 

We had a member who went by Nagger (aka Laker12 aka James Platts, the man who the Welfare Program is named after). I don't know if this was a South Park reference or not, but whatever.

 

Anyway, for all of my personal history in the league, his avatar was that of an iconic wolf. Thus, the iconic member and the iconic profile picture briefly drummed up popularity as its own team.

 

To this day I'll still support the Seamen and the Naggerwolves. I don't know if I still have the wolf on file, but I do have a lovely graphic I made that features it...

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3 minutes ago, JardyB10 said:
31 minutes ago, bigAL said:

 

I think so, or at least it had a lot of traction TO be a thing.

Never officially was. I think Nagger was just the GM so it was more of a nickname than anything but it wasn’t official.

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15 minutes ago, Frank said:

@JardyB10 Minot Gladiator GM plz

A touching thought :). But no.

 

23 minutes ago, JardyB10 said:

I don't know if I still have the wolf on file, but I do have a lovely graphic I made that features it...

 

jk, I got the wolf baby

kgg959d.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Victor said:

the recently passed away 701

 

Oh shit, I hadn't heard about this :(. I shared his support for the Gladiators, that was a subject I first got to know him on (701 is the North Dakota area code, after). It's upsetting to come back to hear about him and Elmebeck, and hopefully nobody else.

 

Here's some lovely memorial threads courtesy of @gorlab I dug up if any other noobs are curious. They're a treat to reflect on. RIP dude.

 

I still remember those Digital and Kronos sigs, truly sick.

 

Edited by JardyB10
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58 minutes ago, v.2 said:

None of these are really that amazing, you guys are just so stuck on the nostalgia of former teams.  Sure some of the locations should return but I’d like to see more new ones tossed in, with some total logo revamps/refreshes to modernize the new league.

What about the Hamilton Canucks tho?

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, JardyB10 said:

 

Oh shit, I hadn't heard about this :(. I shared his support for the Gladiators, that was a subject I first got to know him on (701 is the North Dakota area code, after). It's upsetting to come back to hear about him and Elmebeck, and hopefully nobody else.

 

Here's some lovely memorial threads courtesy of @gorlab I dug up if any other noobs are curious. They're a treat to reflect on. RIP dude.

 

I still remember those Digital and Kronos sigs, truly sick.

 

His memorial service was very nice. Being online was the only  decent thing about COVID was being able to view his service

Edited by Smarch
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