Portland, Maine lost its AHL team this past offseason as they were sold and relocated to Springfield, Massachusets after the Springfield team was moved to Tucson, Arizona. The swift stripping of New England of several AHL teams fulfilled the apparent manifest destiny to settle California and the west for the benefit of western NHL teams. With that this market has been without hockey this season, which is a tough pill to swallow. I have made treks to Quebec CIty and Manchester, NH to fill the void, but it would be nice to have a home team in Portland. There have been recent stories about the ECHL possibly locating a team here. Manchester lost their AHL team to California and filled that slot with an ECHL team.
The former East Coast Hockey League is one step below the AHL and I have asked myself if that level of hockey is worth watching.
I was in Manchester yesterday to watch the NCAA regional final and in that game, seeing a number of players that will never make the NHL, I realized that the hockey was still entertaining and the lesser skills of some players should actually provide opportunity for the games to be exciting due to increased mistakes. Defensemen who cannot skate as well will allow forwards to make more plays, like the NHL of 20+ years ago. There are always a few ECHL players that make their way to the NHL, so seeing guys develop will still be an aspect to follow. In the end I just like being at a rink watching games. Sure it would be great if every night you could see top players or a league that is a more direct feeder, but that does not preclude the ECHL from offering entertaining action. If I were able to choose I would prefer a QMJHL team come here, but I would go to ECHL games if that is what comes to pass.