Source reports Quad City Mallards, IHL to join Central Hockey League


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Originally Posted Online: May 27, 2010, 4:00 pm
Last Updated: May 28, 2010, 7:07 am
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By Matt Veto, mveto@qconline.com

An unnamed source confirmed Thursday that the Quad City Mallards and five other International Hockey League teams will join the Central Hockey League next week.

The move will end speculation about the future of the IHL and make the CHL -- which currently has 13 teams -- the largest AA hockey league in the nation.

"Stability is the No. 1 thing, and with stability builds credibility," said the source who is close to the discussions. "The CHL is now the premier, and largest, AA league in the U.S."

Quad City Mallards owner Chris Lencheski declined comment. Lencheski has been candid about having discussed options with the East Coast Hockey League and CHL in addition to the IHL.

CHL commissioner Duane Lewis would not confirm the expansion, but confirmed discussions.

"We think there is a good fit for teams to join the CHL," Lewis said. "We think we have a good model that would work for several teams.

The CHL is scheduled to become a 19-team league or even 20, according to the source, who said the CHL also plans to add an expansion team in addition to the six new member clubs coming from the IHL.

The source acknowledged travel costs will rise for CHL teams because of the league's expansion. In 2009-10, the CHL iced primarily southern teams -- five in Texas and one each in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arizona. In the IHL, the Bloomington (Ill.) PrairieThunder was the most southern team.

However, the CHL operates a team in Independence, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Rapid City, S.D., setting up more balanced Northern and Southern Conference realignment opportunities to accommodate the six Midwestern/Northern teams coming from the IHL.

The source said travel costs will make it unlikely each team will play every CHLteam during the regular season. Conference and division alignment details are expected to be determined during the CHL summer meetings next week in Phoenix.

The IHL will end a three-season revival -- 2007 to 2010 -- having named itself after a league that operated 1945 to 2001. The Colonial Hockey League formed in 1991, which included the original Quad City Mallards, morphed into the United Hockey League in 1997 before becoming the "new" IHL in 2007.

IHL commissioner Dennis Hextall said he "can't say much" on the topic, but confirmed talks.

"There is stuff being worked on," Hextall said. "Right now, there's no comment."

An official announcement is expected next week.

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