It’s official: No more Victoria.

The ECHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the withdrawal of the Victoria Salmon Kings from the league, effectively killing the franchise.

The move seemed inevitable once S-Kings owner Graham Lee decided earlier this year to move the Western Hockey League’s Chilliwack Bruins into Save-On Foods Memorial Centre, giving the arena three hockey tenants for next season (along with a British Columbia Hockey League team).

Reign president Justin Kemp said in an e-mail that it was “a relatively easy vote.” Interestingly, he said the Board voted during a conference call nearly a month ago, but the announcement was delayed until today.

The Salmon Kings players all become free agents. That figured to be the case anyway, since ECHL contracts only last one year. But for ECHL veterans like Chad Painchaud, Ryan Turek, P.J. Atherton, and others who called Victoria home last season, the future becomes a little less certain. Be assured that the league’s other coaches won’t mind having this extra time to recruit the Salmon Kings’ best players.

Still uncertain is the ECHL schedule for next season. A Loveland, Colorado-based CHL team has been rumored as a possible addition, but that could be mere speculation. If the Western Conference is indeed reduced to seven teams, that’s almost a one-third reduction in size from the time the Reign entered the league a short three years ago.

A reduction in Western Conference teams from eight to seven would result in big differences. The pool of players would become smaller and the level of competition figures to go up (again), but the effects of Repetitive Visiting Uniform Syndrome will be felt in Citizens Business Bank Arena and the other six buildings. Would the current playoff format change? Would more Eastern Conference teams be included on the schedule?

Those questions can’t be asked and answered until the number of teams is finalized, and that could be at least a month from now.

By all accounts, Victoria was a beautiful place for players to play and visit. Aesthetically the eight-team balance out West could be restored with the addition of another club.

But good luck replacing this.

This entry was posted in Ontario Reign/ECHL and tagged by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.
  • sect122fan

    Why not go to s single table alla the EPL and most soccer leagues around the world.
    I also think if the ECHL and the Reign want to continue to grow the fan base they will find a way to squeeze in a few more East coast teams coming west and vice versa. It get old seeing the same teams for what seems like 20 times a year

  • IE Sports Fan

    I Agree… I’m disappointed we lost Victoria, however it is extremely boring having the same (few teams) coming to the “Bank” each year.

    The addition of several more “East Coast” teams to the schedule would make for a lot more excitment/fun. Not to mention, I’m sure it’s equally boring for the players.

    The “Silver Lining” of the story is the increase in the talent level/pool, which I hope finally finds it’s way to Ontario. We as fans expect MUCH more out of our team next season!

  • Mr. Edgar Venegas

    I have been following the Victoria ECHL or WHL debate for years. They have always wanted the WHL in that city. Its more of a rivalry for them playing against teams like Kamloops, Kelowna and Seattle than Las Vegas, Bakersfield or Ontario. In my opinion, they took a step backwards. Watching men play is better than watching boys. Victoria will be missed, it was awesome being able to host a Canadian team in our arena.

    This is going to hurt the Western Conference. Fresno in 08, Phoenix in 09 and now Victoria. I remember the great inaugural 08-09 season when we had so many rivals. Now how will a team make the playoffs. They have to bring more teams from the East to visit, there is no other way.

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