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Claimed:What if the VHL had Pro/Rel? (Part 1)

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“Anyone who tells me US soccer should have promotion & relegation better argue that the NFL, NBA & MLB should as well.”

 - Sports Illustrated soccer reporter Grant Wahl via Twitter


The idea of promotion and relegation is simple, in theory. There are varying levels of competitive play in one geographic region—think about U.S. baseball and how it has MLB, AAA, AA and A-level baseball. However, rather than remaining static, the worst teams in a league are eligible to move down a level, while the top teams in the lower leagues are able to work their way to the top. In many European soccer leagues, this means that, hypothetically, a small local team could one day be in the Premier League.


Even though Wahl did not mention hockey in his original tweet, it’s easy to see on the surface how promotion and relegation would work in the VHL. Every season, the two bottom teams in the VHL would drop the VHLM. Meanwhile, the highest finishers in the standings in the VHLM would move up to the VHL, instantly becoming eligible for the Continental Cup the following season. You really want to find a way to prevent tanking, commissioners? This one’s for free.


However, the actual applications of such a system would be difficult. For instance, the idea of a draft in itself would go away—players would instead be free to signed wherever they wanted, in either the VHL or VHLM. Also, there would need to be some discussion about how a modified salary cap would work, or else there would need to be some mechanism to decide how much money teams are able to spend without a true free market to dictate salary costs.


But all of that is a discussion for another time. In this simple exercise, I want to determine one thing: What would the VHL look like if this sort of system was actually instituted? To find out, I instituted a few ground rules.


1. I will start from S31, where the VHL and VHLM both expanded into 10 teams.


2. Since the draft and TPE rules make a direct comparison of VHL and VHLM teams impossible, I instead must make the comparisons between the two subjectively. The easiest way to do this is assume that VHLM teams would be at a slight disadvantage when joining the VHL, about three positions worth. Thus, for every current VHLM team that would be in the VHL during a given season, I added three to their final standings position to see whether they would be relegated. I did the opposite for VHL teams in the VHLM, subtracting three from their total. Also, I gave any ties automatically to the VHL team.


Given the length of this article, I decided to split it into multiple parts, with Seasons 34-37 coming next, then Seasons 38-41 coming the week after. As a note, teams that just moved down the previous season to the VHLM will be in red, while new entries into the VHL will be in blue.




Season 31


VHL Standings

1. Calgary Wranglers

2. HC Davos Dynamo

2. Riga Reign

4. New York Americans

5. Helsinki Titans

6. Cologne Express

7. Vasteras Iron Eagles

8. Seattle Bears

9. Quebec City Meute

10. Toronto Legion


VHLM Standings

1. Yukon Rush

2. Minot Gladiators

3. Vasteras Baby Eagles

4. Saskatoon Wild

5. Bern Royals

6. Bratislava Watchmen

7. Oslo Storm

8. Kolari Panthers

9. Brampton Blades

10. Ottawa Ice Dogs




Just one year into the team’s existence, and already the Quebec City franchise is moving down to the VHLM. Poor Meute. The more surprising news, however, is the demotion of the last place Toronto Legion. Just two seasons removed from a championship, the rebuilding franchise is not able to scrap together enough points to even come within sniffing distance of Seattle, finishing 26 points behind. The Legion didn’t have much going for it at this point, except for one main piece: Remy LeBeau would see the beginning of his career include a detour to the VHLM.


On the other side, meanwhile, Yukon sees its entry into the VHL hockey system correspond with an immediate upgrade to the VHL. Bolstered by Skylar Rift’s excellent goaltending, Yukon could have actually made a legitimate argument to take down the Legion in head-to-head play as it was. Right on the Rush’s heels were Minot, who rode strong defense with Till Lindemann and Gregory Glass to second place. The Gladiators finished three points ahead of the Baby Eagles, who were looking to establish Victor’s worst nightmare and put two Vasteras teams in the VHL.




Season 32


VHL Standings

1. Riga Reign

2. Helsinki Titans

3. Calgary Wranglers

4. New York Americans

5. Vasteras Iron Eagles

6. HC Davos Dynamo

7. Cologne Express

8. Yukon Rush (5th place +3)

10. Seattle Bears

13. Minot Gladiators (10+3)


VHLM Standings

1. Ottawa Ice Dogs

2. Saskatoon Wild

3. Oslo Storm

4. Brampton Blades

5. Quebec City Meute (8th place – 3)

6. Toronto Legion (9-3)

6. Vasteras Baby Eagles

7. Bern Royals

8. Bratislava Watchmen

9. Kolari Panthers




In their first season in the VHL, the Yukon Rush are able to hang on, but just barely. They may have lost Skylar Rift and Damien Sandow to other VHL franchises, but some unexpected play from David Collier allows them to finish in eighth place in the conference. The Seattle Bears, meanwhile, are not so lucky. With rookie James Lefevre struggling to get up to top form, and Zack Sound still playing in the VHLM, the franchise follows up six straight playoff berths with a direct demotion to the VHLM. Minot, meanwhile, had a pitiful VHLM season in S32; it’s unsurprising to see them do even worse in the top stage, becoming relegated once again.


However, on the other side, neither the Meute nor the Legion are able to answer the call and work their way back up to the VHL. Instead, for the second straight season, that honor belongs to two other North American teams: Ottawa and Saskatoon. Given that Ottawa seemingly had the entire first and second round that year in the VHLM draft, it’s unsurprising to see them make the leap to the next level. Saskatoon, however, may be a bit of a surprise, given the strength of eventual Founder’s Cup championship participants Oslo and Brampton.



Season 33


VHL Standings

1. Helsinki Titans

2. New York Americans

3. Calgary Wranglers

4. Riga Reign

5. HC Davos Dynamo

7. Cologne Express

8. Saskatoon Wild (5+3)

9. Ottawa Ice Dogs (6+3)

10. Vasteras Iron Eagles

10. Yukon Rush (7+3)


VHLM Standings

1. Kolari Panthers

2. Brampton Blades

3. Toronto Legion (6-3)

3. Bratislava Watchmen

4. Vasteras Baby Eagles

5. Quebec City Meute (8-3)

6. Seattle Bears (9-3)

8. Minot Gladiators

9. Oslo Storm

10. Bern Royals




We’re beginning to see a trend emerging in the VHL. Given the sustained success of some certain VHL franchises, particularly Helsinki, Riga, Calgary and New York in the early part of the previous decade, it’s tough for VHLM franchises to maintain their spot in the top league. Both Saskatoon and Ottawa survive in their first season in the VHL, but only barely. Yukon, meanwhile, receives the axe in its second VHL season, losing out to Ottawa by a mere three points in the final standings. They are joined by the Vasteras Iron Eagles, leaving the city with two VHLM franchises and no VHL franchises in S34.


On the other side, however, the former VHL franchises are having a tough time making their way back up to the VHL, even with the given artificial boost. In LeBeau’s third season, the Legion are beginning to put the team together, but they fall a mere one spot short in the standings. Quebec City and Seattle, meanwhile, are middle of the pack teams in the VHLM as compared to end-of-pack teams in the VHL. Completing a rebuilding project, the soon-to-be-relocated Kolari Panthers send out the team on a high note, while Brampton joins them after knocking on the doorstep the previous season.


The leagues entering Season 34



Brampton Blades

Calgary Wranglers

Cologne Express

HC Davos Dynamo

Helsinki Titans

Kolari Panthers

New York Americans

Ottawa Ice Dogs

Riga Reign

Saskatoon Wild



Bratislava Watchmen

Bern Royals

Minot Gladiators

Oslo Storm

Quebec City Meute

Seattle Bears

Toronto Legion

Vasteras Baby Eagles

Vasteras Iron Eagles

Yukon Rush


What happens when we decide to shake the VHL up even further? Find out next week when I examine Seasons 34 through 37!



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  • Admin

This would definitely discourage tanking hahaha.

Being a European football fan myself I can obviously appreciate this. In fact, if I was starting a league and I knew for sure it would be have a sustainable 90ish members all the time (like the VHL), I would implement a 6 team top league and 6 team lower league. If, like IRL, relegation meant mass departures of the best players, and promotion means panic buying whatever loose pieces available, it could potentially be fun. Have a ridiculously low salary cap, avoid powerhouses and magic!

"In many European soccer leagues, this means that, hypothetically, a small local team could one day be in the Premier League."

Not even hypothetically! Granted, not the Premier League but in Spain's top division this season is this tiny team: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SD_Eibar

In fact, they're currently an impressive 8th in the league!

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  • Admin

Well first of all, it would obviously never happen at this point in the VHL.

But, hypothetically, with our current member base, I'd say the only way to do it would be to contract both VHL and VHLM.

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"In many European soccer leagues, this means that, hypothetically, a small local team could one day be in the Premier League."

Not even hypothetically! Granted, not the Premier League but in Spain's top division this season is this tiny team: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SD_Eibar

In fact, they're currently an impressive 8th in the league!


I mean, yes, doesn't happen to often though. And I've always found the idea of pro/rel to be interesting, but with at least the majority of sim leagues I've been involved with being very North America-heavy (the VHL is probably the most worldwide representation I've ever seen), I've always thought it wouldn't be received very well.

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it's a great idea, but we'd need way more dudes...and a lot of work would have to go into it.


Not likely, but in a perfect world it'd be sweet.

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  • Senior Admin

Content: 3/3

Good article. Definitely an interesting concept, would be really interesting to see it in action.


Grammar: 2/2

Nothing - great job!


Appearance: 1/1

Looks good!


Overall: 6/6

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