by Dan Krieger
September 16, 2016 - Federal Hockey League (FHL)
American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens have chosen the Laval (Quebec) Rocket as the name of its AHL affiliate when the team starts play in a new Laval arena for the 2017-18 season. The Canadiens will be moving its current St. John's (New Brunswick) IceCaps AHL affiliate to Laval. Other nickname finalists were Patriots and Rapids.
Federal Hockey League: The new FHL franchise that will start play in Winston-Salem (NC) for the 2017-18 season will be called the Carolina Thunderbirds. The city had a previous minor hockey team called the Carolina Thunderbirds that played in two leagues before joining the East Coast Hockey League, now the ECHL, for the ECHL's inaugural 1988-89 season. The owner of the new Carolina Thunderbirds also owns the league's Danville (IL) Dashers and Port Huron (MI) Prowlers and those two teams will play two FHL regular-season games in Winston-Salem near the end of the 2016-17 season.
Major League Soccer: The MLS commissioner recently stated its next round of expansion to 28 teams might be the league's last expansion. The league will grow from 20 to 23 teams with the addition of teams in Atlanta and Minnesota in 2017 and another team in Los Angeles in 2018. Miami is expected to become the league's 24th team when a new stadium is built. Some of the markets looking at the next round of MLS expansion include Sacramento, Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, San Antonio and San Diego.
United Soccer League: The Orange County Blues (Irvine, CA) of the USL have come under new ownership and there are plans to rebrand the team. Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire does not appear interested in owning and operating its own developmental team in the USL at this time. The Chicago Fire currently has a USL affiliation with St. Louis FC.
Premier Arena Soccer League: The indoor PASL, which is the official developmental league for the Major Arena Soccer League, has added a new Phoenix-based team called the Arizona Fire.
United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The PDL's Albuquerque (NM) Sol is looking to build a new downtown stadium so the team can move up to the Division-III pro-level United Soccer League. A recent feasibility study indicated a USL team would draw enough fans to be successful in a new stadium seating 5,000 to 10,000. The team has a goal of 2018, but the stadium location and financing still need to be worked out.
Canadian Lacrosse League (CLAX): The Ontario-based CLAX has decided to cease operations prior to a sixth season in 2017. The league started play in 2012 and has operated a winter season running from January through March. The league had five teams called the Barrie Blizzard, Durham TurfDogs, Niagara Lock Monsters (St. Catharines), Ohsweken Demons and Southwest Cyclops (Paris, Ontario) for the 2016 season. The league has not ruled out the possibility of a return sometime in the future.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2015-16: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.