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VHL 40 in 40 #39: Roll with the Changes

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VHL 40 in 40: #39 Roll with the Changes


The Victory Hockey League has, for a long while, been a constantly evolving creature as from one day to the next we have never truly had the same member base. Going strong in our eighth real-life year and 44th season, the league appears to be as strong and vibrant a community as ever. This article was originally intended to be written by League historian Victor in November 2014, but with his departure as full-time commissioner, this particular piece was identified as taxing for him to write. Instead, I’ve gained a renewed interest in helping with this enormously popular and successful series. Therefore, I will be creating this piece with hodge podge quotes that may be somewhat dated. The third decade of the VHL (S31-40) was filled with a lot of changes. Notably we saw expansion, the welfare system and a changing of the guard in key leadership positions. As always, the many number of changes made for an exciting time.






Expansion had been debated and dreamt up for many a moon before it finally came to fruition in S31. I, always the conservative skeptic, insisted that it was unnecessary at the time to expand to 10 teams since the VHLM needed a lot of work as it was. David Knight posited the change to Jardy and I more or less as a last gas before his soon to come retirement from administrative duties. With both expansion teams finally capturing Continental Cups eleven seasons after their inception, I would say that expansion has been a huge success. As expanded on in another article in this series, expansion was the defining feature of the 30s decade of the VHL. Some key figures described expansion as such:


 “Expansion was purely an idea that came from David. I was initially opposed to it, especially considering the putrid state of the VHLM. The VHL appears to have done fairly well since expansion. This was supposed to be David's last hurray as admin and I’d say it certainly was a terrific last hurray.” – Sterling Labatte


“League expansion was more or less the brainchild of David Knight. It had been something that was talked about probably since the league first started out. Yet it always seemed too risky. If we expanded and didn't have enough members to properly supply 10 teams, then the talent would dilute and the league could potentially falter. We needed to be 100% certain that it would work out, and David had an excellent plan in place. Together we hammered out the fine details and analyzed it short- and long-term as best we could. I think David wanted it to be his sort of "crown achievement" before he stepped down from leadership. Now that the league isn't dead a full generation of players later, one could argue that it was.” – Jardy Bunclewirth


“Obviously expansion was the overarching theme of the decade, everything which happened in the VHL or VHLM was in some part influenced by it. The good far outweighs the bad there and I think there is definite correlation between the success of expansion and the consistent standard of quality the VHL has maintained since. I never thought expansion was necessary before it happened but it cured several unseen ills and probably prevented others.” -Victor Alfredsson


James Platts Welfare System




Another important change was the advent of the James Platts Welfare system early in the decade. The VHL had always prided itself on being a point task league, a key differentiation from other sim leagues on the internet. Most of all people were opposed to TPE being given away for free. There was a small niche of members who were admirable and respected posters whom simply didn’t want to do point tasks. The key example being the infamous James Platts who was more accomplished as a forum regular than an actual player agent. The man who went by the moniker ‘Nagger’ and previously ‘Laker12’ was given the namesake of the welfare and subsequent pension program because he exemplified the ideal member(s) we wanted to keep in our community.


With expansion, I personally fought hard for the creation of the welfare and pension plan as I saw a good number of members wishing to stick around, but not do point tasks. After eight years of the same process, I feel their pain. We bore the pension plan for older members out of the same cloth. As long as you’d created a player with 400 TPE, you were entitled to claim an added benefit. With the current system retaining an average of 30 or so members claiming benefits per week, I’d argue that this change has added the depth we needed to complete the expansion process.


 “I was a big person pushing for the welfare system. The idea had been thrown around for a long time as the James Platts Welfare System in memory of Nagger, a notorious slacker who was beloved around here. As part of the incentive for older members to stay here I pushed hard for this change, although I forget just how much I actually accomplished.” – Sterling Labatte


“I believe welfare was conceived to assist with the maintenance of 10 teams. We recognized that there were many potential community members (largely from the SHL) that either could not or would not practice by normal methods. Thus, we introduced the James Platts Welfare Program to help those guys out, and help bolster league rosters with active role players. Admittedly, I've never been overly fond of welfare, but I understand and accept the need for it, and I like to believe it has served its purpose.” – Jardy Bunclewirth


Site Relocation/DDOS Attack


Prior to the start of Season 35 in September of 2013, our older (second generation site) went down due to an attack on our server. After much soul searching, the Victory Hockey League would be required to move to a new forum if we wanted to continue. At first, I thought for sure this was the end of our existence as hordes of members clung to our original site or Facebook page anxiously awaiting news on the fate of the league. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about hosting a site and had largely relied on others to make it run smoothly (although you’ll likely remember frequent down times if you’ve been here since S23-24). The attack more or less pre-empted something that we needed to do regardless.


Initially, we thought we’d lost our entire history until I was able to recover the file from our server and with it; Higgins was able to create a temporary web-page with the old site. The same horde banded together to transfer massive amounts of information from the old sites and with it we recovered without much difficulty. By this time, the changing of the guard had occurred and the VHL was under new leadership. The shear strength of the community was demonstrated in spades during those trying weeks in September 2013. At that point I was able to let my little VHL baby go into the hands of another team of leaders. Victor summed up the move well:


“It's amazing that the DDOS attack was not really a low point in the VHL's history. Season 35 immediately after the event was a bit of a slow burner but that can also partially be explained by the time of the year, as it was early autumn as far as I recall. However, we had seen much worse in the earlier years and that most unwelcome of events was nonetheless a welcome testament to the strength of the league's membership. Taking place as it did when I personally could not devote all my time to the VHL, it was really pleasing to see my job being done for me in lots of cases as we moved. The move itself was a positive as we can all admit now. I don't know how long we would have persevered with all the bugs of the old site, I wouldn't be surprised if we were still there right now, so that was a much needed jolt in the direction of a superior website.” – Victor Alfredsson


Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss



Over the years, the VHL has had remarkably few administrators. You have the first generation of Scotty, Brooks and Noiles. The second generation featured Slobodzian (for a short period), Knight, myself and later Jardy. The third generation featured Victor, Higgins, Jardy, myself and Knight. Finally, you’ve got the current day crew of Gow, Draper, Higgins (Victor, Jardy and myself in some form or another). The third generation of leadership will be the feature of this piece as VHL leadership seems to go in cycles of 10-15 seasons at most (generally speaking). If there is one thing the VHL has never lacked, that would be solid leadership. To learn more about their respective careers as admin look here:


With Knight and myself taking lesser roles in the league in favour of Victor and Higgins, the VHL suddenly had a new generation of leadership. They were tasked with the role of seeing expansion through and continuing the strength of the VHL. As previously mentioned, Higgins played a key role in developing the new site which we still call home to this date. As Higgins is by far the commish with the best technical sense in VHL history, he was a welcome addition to the team. Likewise, Victor is a master of day to day activities. The new team was able to create some much needed and somewhat unheralded changes during their tenure.


Incremental Approach


The VHL saw many changes during the 30s decade, including the improved and renewed recruitment crew, the improved Board of Governors, a massive VHLM overhaul/improvement and the Super Cup. The decade could probably best be described as incremental changes, but one that was perhaps the most revolutionary in league history as the Board of Governors gained unprecedented power to add to and create change on a seemingly weekly basis. Before then, power had largely been concentrated to the ‘blue team’. I would describe the decade as one filled with many improvements and few setbacks, which would make it the most successful in the history of the VHL.  


Since then there have been countless minor changes to the league ranging from how grading is handled, how the BoG operates, the recruitment crew, VHLM training camp, the new forum, and Super Cup. That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of small changes that have happened over the past ten seasons. Since we are constantly striving to be better and growing as a community it is sometimes hard to realize just how far we have actually come.” –Mitch Higgins


“There have been plenty of changes, big and small. We introduced training camp to the VHLM, altered training camp for the VHL, inflated training hours, overhauled the player store, and of course, moved headquarters once again. So there have been many changes in that regard. One thing that hasn't really changed is the people. Our community is as dedicated as ever.” –Jardy Bunclewirth


“Some minor changes which have been implemented, which may not be of much note on their own, but together form a better experience, are the result of an evolved Board of Governors. The system as it was in Season 30 was just not effective, it was stale and inactive and in my 10-15 season experience delivered nothing new to the league. Since the injection of new blood around Season 34, the constant cycling of members in and out based on contribution, and allowing topics to be discussed there which might have previously been confined to the admin forum, the BOG has been a much needed source of creative ideas and timely resolutions to various conflicts since. It's still a lot of hot air at times but at least something is being discussed, if not on a daily then on a weekly basis.” – Victor Alfredsson


Where Do We Go From Here?


At time of publication, we will be close to halfway through the 40s decade of the VHL. Some of the following quotes will prove to be outdated in some respect, but it is clear to tell that the leaders were filled with much hope when originally asked these questions in November 2014.


“The league will be exactly where it is now, a strong, diverse place with a great community.” – Sterling Labatte


“The future looks bright for the VHL too because every week we have members who voice their opinions in the suggestions board and in the BoG, which will help to spark the next development.” – Mitch Higgins


“Who can really say where we'll be in another 10 seasons? Maybe we'll be big enough to expand to 12 teams. Maybe the VHLM will have shrunk to eight and increased back to 10 in that same period. Maybe the league will have to shut down (highly unlikely). Maybe there will be new commissioners. If nothing else, I'm confident the league will be even bigger and healthier than it is today. Specifically, I'd LIKE to see the VHLM become a more legitimate and desirable league. Much will be different, but as I said earlier, much will be the same. More "can't miss" new members will join, some old friends will say goodbye, and something will go horrible and we'll have to move headquarters yet again. And the league will keep on trucking, adapting with time” – Jardy Bunclewirth


One thing is clear after eight years; the league has a strong, vibrant and dedicated community. We have expanded to have more jobs, more active members and more activities than ever before. The leadership is solid, the sense of community is solid and the entertainment value is solid. The VHL is a place many are happy to call their community. It is also clear to me that the VHL will continue to evolve. One obvious constant throughout the league’s history is change. However, I’m compelled at this point, to also believe we, as a league, are as strong as we’ve ever been in our history. An accomplishment I am looking forward to in the next few years is 50 seasons and after 50 seasons, 10 full real-time years. With many dedicated members, those accomplishments will come and go without much concern. The amount of effort, time and energy the league takes is huge and for that, perhaps we don’t always reflect the true value of many people’s contributions to the machine. So for the past eight years and for the next years we run, thanks for your contributions to one of the greatest sim leagues ever.


Thanks in no small part to contributions Victor, Jardyb10, and Higgins

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