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What if the VHL had Pro/Rel? (Part 3) [Final: 6/6]

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After looking through seven simulated seasons of promotion/relegation in the VHL, one clear trend is emerging, something that should have been obvious for anyone who has watched the VHLM with a close eye: Minor league teams are incredibly inconsistent, and with inconsistency comes an inability to finish in the top reaches of the VHL.


Entering Season 38, there are just two original VHLM teams — the Oslo Storm and the Vasteras Baby Eagles/Moscow Red Wolves — that have not had even a cup of tea in the VHL. On average, there are about three original VHLM teams in the top league per season. Yet, despite those numbers, the fluctuating year-over-year success of many VHLM teams makes it impossible to get to the top league, then finish high once again. In fact, in the first seven years of simulations, only one original VHLM team finished in the top half of the VHL: the Season 35 Ottawa Lynx.


Of course, the flip side of that coin also has significant implications. Because the VHLM is so volatile, any team can emerge from the pack to be promoted to the VHL. As such, it’s that much harder for the former VHL teams that are relegated to work their way up. In this simulation alone, Toronto, Seattle and Vasteras have been in the VHLM for more seasons than they have been in the VHL, a testament to how hard it is to work back up once relegation has occurred.


So, before giving my final thoughts, let’s work out the final three seasons of this simulation. As before, in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, there are some 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.


And here is how we begin Season 38, with Calgary and Helsinki as the only original VHL teams in the minors:



Bern Royals

Cologne Express

HC Davos Dynamo

Minot Gladiators

New York Americans

Quebec City Meute

Riga Reign

Seattle Bears

Toronto Legion

Vasteras Iron Eagles



Bratislava Watchmen

Brampton Blades

Calgary Wranglers

Helsinki Titans

Moscow Red Wolves

Oslo Storm

Ottawa Lynx

Saskatoon Wild

Turku Outlaws

Yukon Rush




Season 38



1. New York Americans

2. HC Davos Dynamo

3. Riga Reign

4. Vasteras Iron Eagles

5. Toronto Legion

6. Seattle Bears

8. Cologne Express

10. Quebec City Meute

10. Bern Royals (7+3)

12. Minot Gladiators (9+3)



1. Yukon Rush

2. Turku Outlaws

3. Moscow Red Wolves

4. Calgary Wranglers (7-3)

4. Brampton Blades

4. Ottawa Lynx

6. Helsinki Titans (9-3)

6. Saskatoon Wild

8. Oslo Storm

10. Bratislava Watchmen




History may see Season 38 as a relatively uninteresting year in terms of promotion and relegation. Two former VHLM teams — the Royals and Gladiators — will be relegated at the end of the year, with two other starting VHLM teams taking their slot. For Minot, the last-place VHL finish also ends a three year run in the top division, one of the best stays for a former VHLM team in the top division. However, the final standings don’t indicate just how close Bern was to a major coup. In the VHLM that year, Bern finished seventh… but only three points away from finishing in fourth. With just one more win and a tie, Bern would be the ones staying up for a third VHL season, while Quebec would have been sent down.


And in the VHLM, the troubles continue for the Calgary Wranglers. To me, this is the most interesting part of promotion and relegation in a sim league. The Wranglers may very well be the most decorated team in VHL history, but promotion and relegation waits for no man. The Wranglers will enter Season 39 as their third straight season in the minors, and with the team getting older, there is no sure bet that they will be able to escape the abyss any time soon.




Season 39



1. New York Americans

2. HC Davos Dynamo

3. Vasteras Iron Eagles

4. Riga Reign

5. Seattle Bears

6. Cologne Express

7. Yukon Rush (4+3)

9. Toronto Legion

9. Quebec City Meute

12. Turku Outlaws (9+3)



1. Ottawa Lynx

2. Brampton Blades

2. Saskatoon Wild

5. Bern Royals

4. Calgary Wranglers (7-3)

5. Helsinki Titans (8-3)

6. Oslo Storm

6. Moscow Red Wolves

8. Minot Gladiators

10. Bratislava Watchmen




Season 39 brings an interesting new conundrum: What if there is an actual tie to determine promotion or relegation? In the VHL, both Toronto and Quebec City finished with 30 points in the VHL regular season, good for last place in the league. However, since the recently-promoted Turku Outlaws actually finished worse, this means that one team stays in the VHL, while the other is relegated to the VHLM. In this case, since Toronto had more wins, I’m awarding them the eighth position, relegating Quebec City to the depths of the minors. This gives rise to an interesting new facet of promotion/relegation that I had not considered before: the effect of rivalries. Toronto and Quebec were rivals while competing for championships between Seasons 34 and 37, but just how more hot would the rivalry stand if they had to fight over relegation two seasons later?


And in the VHLM, the tiebreaker scenario comes into play once again. The Ottawa Lynx finish in first with 117 points, but the Blades and Wild are tied for second just one point back. Who moves on? Once again I turn to wins, and this time, it’s Brampton that takes the relegation spot. Also, as a side note, this season produced probably my single favorite standings quirk. The Yukon Rush missed the VHLM playoffs this year, finishing behind Ottawa, Brampton and Saskatoon in the North American Conference. However, since they technically held the VHLM’s fourth-best record, they finished ahead of Toronto and Quebec in this simulation, and with Calgary in the minors, Yukon technically snags the third North American playoff berth in the VHL. Weird.




Season 40



1. New York Americans

2. Cologne Express

4. Riga Reign

7. Vasteras Iron Eagles

8. Toronto Legion

9. HC Davos Dynamo

9. Brampton Blades (6+3)

10. Seattle Bears

11. Yukon Rush (8+3)

12. Ottawa Lynx (9+3)



0. Quebec City Meute (3-3)

1. Helsinki Titans (4-3)

1. Oslo Storm

2. Saskatoon Wild

3. Calgary Wranglers (6-3)

3. Bratislava Watchmen

4. Minot Gladiators

5. Bern Royals

7. Moscow Red Wolves

10. Turku Outlaws




Another season is in the books, and another two former VHLM teams are relegated to their former home. More interesting to me this season, though, is what occurred with the Vasteras and Toronto franchises. In the real life Season 40, both teams missed the playoffs by a very wide margin, instead focusing on building for the future. This version of Season 40, however, didn’t happen that way. With Quebec, Helsinki and Calgary all down in the minors, and the three former VHLM teams in the top league finishing poorly, both Vasteras and Toronto finished in the top half of the league. Would both teams’ rebuilding projects be going differently if they had made the playoffs last season? Would Toronto actually be ahead of Calgary now if it had finished fifth in the league last year and gotten that experience? It’s certainly worth thinking about.


And in speaking of Calgary, the team has made a heartening run in the VHL over the last couple of seasons in real life, but in this situation, it just can’t seem to get out of the gutter. The finish here makes four straight seasons finishing in the top half of the VHLM… and four straight seasons that is has not earned a promotion position. Sadness also descends upon Oslo in this situation. One of two original VHLM franchises to have never gotten to the top league, Oslo finished with the best VHLM record in Season 40, only to be bested by abnormally strong relegated franchises in Quebec and Helsinki. This marks the third time that Oslo has finished one position away from promotion.




I originally began this trial thinking that promotion/relegation would put a damper on tanking, but I had no idea how correct I would be. Seattle and Calgary endure 5+ season stints in the VHLM in this scenario. Toronto and Vasteras were both down for at least four seasons at a time, while Quebec was down for seasons in total. Helsinki spent three seasons in a row in the minors. And all of this is due to the common trend in VHL team building: tanking.


In the actual VHL, tanking is not only viable, it’s encouraged. With a few high draft picks, a team can go from terrible to the top in a hurry. However, in this scenario, those bottoming-out strategies can be deadly. Toronto missed out on a potential title run in Season 34 because they were mired in the minors; Quebec similarly missed out in Season 40. In fact, with both teams down in the minors, it’s possible that they would not be able to pick up the requisite free agents to climb out of the cellar, and their stays at the bottom would be much longer.


Among original VHLM teams, the problem with similar in a fashion: The league’s teams would need to change how they do business in order to try and sustain success. Right now, the fashionable model is to tank one or two seasons, load up on draft picks, then go for a one season run. However, that model makes for large fluctuations in finishing position, and no VHLM team would be able to sustain success. If a VHLM team wanted to do a long-term model in a promotion/relegation system, the optimal strategy would be to tank then go on a run for one season, but then afterwards try and scrape by for a fifth to seventh place finish every season. That way, the team could build their major league clout without all of the major back-and-forth fluctuations that seem to plague teams in the minors every year.

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Content: 3/3

Jesus Murphy. In excess of 1500 words... I have written shorter essays.  I suppose there is no limit on how big these can be!

As always, awesome points. I do like how this system discourages tanking (Screw the Knicks & 76ers).  It would really make drafting a crazy experience too. 


Grammar: 2/2

 I didn't look too closely, but I didn't see anything that stood out either. 


Appearance: 1/1

Looks good

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