Thursday, August 05, 2004

Original Stars Hockey League

With the WHA scheduled to open its regular season on October 29, another league is hoping to capitalize on the NHL's imminent lockout. The Original Stars Hockey League (OSHL) is the brainchild of Randy Gumbley, owner/coach of the Streetsville Derbys of the Provincial Junior A Hockey League. The OSHL is more of an entertainment venture than serious competitive league, and will consist solely of NHL players, much like Wayne Gretzky's "Ninety Nine All Stars Tour" formed during the 1994 NHL lockout. Starting in early October, the OSHL will stage four mini-seasons that each consists of a round robin, 11-day tournament. The entire season will run approximately ten weeks, or into early December. If the NHL lockout extends into January, the OSHL will have another tournament. The current NHL CBA expires on September 15. The league will consist of six eastern Canadian teams, namely Halifax, Hamilton, Quebec City, London, Toronto, and Kitchener. Winnipeg and Hartford are also possibilities. Reports are that arena bookings have been made, the league has a television contract with The Score (channel 53 in parts of Canada), and that more than a third of the needed players have committed. Players such as Dan Cloutier, Chris Osgood, Keith and Wayne Primeau, Dominik Hasek, Roberto Luongo, and Alexei Yashin are either committed or expected to participate. Gumbley is exploring the legalities of announcing participants:
"We're not sure whether we can only announce the names of free agents who are un-signed or players who just recently signed with their teams. I just want this to keep moving forward and hope there are no land mines along the way."
The league will have many experimental rules. Each team will have 12 players, even-strength play will be 4-on-4, and there will be three 17-minute periods. In addition, players will abide by blue-line icing, penalties will be taken as penalty shots with defensive chasers, and there will be no red lines. And in a strange twist, each period will end with a two-player shootout, which will not affect the game's score but go into the general tournament points: 3 for the game win, 2 for the shootout win. The tournament will take place mainly in Ontario, and only on the days of Saturday, Thursday, and Monday. The Saturday games will be triple-headers. The OSHL will be run on a budget of $3.5 million, and each player is likely to earn something in the neighborhood of $22,000 per game. Other than sources from the Mississauga News and, I found this strange post in an IGN Board, supposedly from the best friend of Randy Gumbley's son. I'm not about to start giving credibility to posts in a video game forum, but I thought it was interesting. Take all this with a grain of salt, and let's cross our fingers that we're going to have a tour of all stars much like in the 1994 lockout. UPDATE A new source emerges from the Winnipeg Sun. It adds that Martin Lapointe, Patrick Lalime, and Dave Andreychuk are all on board. Gumbley, who has good player/agent connections, says that 23 NHL players are committed, and his hope is to have 41 committed by the end of the week. The OSHL will need 72 players for its six teams, each team having 11 skaters and a goaltender. I just wonder what happens when a guy like Hasek tweaks his groin or something... Emphasizing the purpose of the league, Gumbley explains:
"This would not be a league in competition with the NHL. It would be a chance for professional players to keep playing against professional players. Then, once they have a collective agreement in place with the NHL, our league would cease to exist."
So it basically is like Gretzky's "Ninety Nine All Stars Tour" during the 1994 lockout, in which Steve Yzerman participated.


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