Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 3, 2021 - NBA G League (G League)
American Association: Due to cross-border travel restrictions, the owner of the American Association's only Canadian team called the Winnipeg Goldeyes is looking at locations in the United States to serve as its temporary home to start the 2021 season. The team made Fargo (ND) its home during the 2020 season.
Empire Pro League: The six-team independent Empire League announced most of its 2021 games will be played in New York and New Hampshire and teams will not be traveling in and out of Georgia or Puerto Rico due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The league standings currently list the New Hampshire Rhinos and the three New York teams called the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds, Saranac Lake Surge and Tupper Lake Riverpigs, but do not list the Georgia Rhinos or Puerto Rico Islanders.
Frontier League: The Frontier League's new 2021 Equipe Quebec (Team Quebec), which is a one-season combination of the league's Quebec Capitales (Quebec City) and Trois-Rivieres Aigles due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, was officially announced this week. The team will begin the season as an American road team with tentative plans to return to Canada in July to play games in Quebec City and Trois-Rivieres. The Equipe Quebec is part of a three-team Atlantic Division in the league alignment.
Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The New England-based summer-collegiate FCBL announced the Norwich (CT) Sea Unicorns team has been added as a 2021 expansion team. The Norwich team had been a member of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League, but lost its affiliation when the league was disbanded as part of the recent restructuring of Minor League Baseball. The team was known as the Connecticut Tigers until changing its name to the Norwich Sea Unicorns prior to the 2020 season. The 2020 season was cancelled, so the team never played in the NYPL under the Sea Unicorns name.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The seven-team professional CEBL announced it will engage fans to help name a proposed new Montreal franchise that is being planned for a start in the 2022 season.
National Basketball Association G-League: The Grand Rapids Drive has entered into a single hybrid affiliation with the NBA's Denver Nuggets starting with the 2021-22 season. The Rapids were operating under a hybrid affiliation with the NBA's Detroit Pistons but the Pistons are starting their own G-League team called the Motor City Cruise for the 2021-22 season. The Pistons did not have its G-League team operate during this past season and ended its affiliation with the Rapids in January 2021. Under the new agreement, the Grand Rapids ownership will run the team's day-to-day business operations and the Nuggets will run the basketball operations. The Grand Rapids team will also undergo a name change. With this new affiliation announcement, only the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers do not have a single affiliation with a G-League team.
Professional Basketball Association: As the new men's spring-summer PBA started its inaugural season this weekend with over 60 teams, the league has already announced plans for the 2022 season that will feature each team playing a 16-game schedule and the addition of a women's league.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new team called the Georgia Bombers (Hinesville) has been added as a 2021-22 expansion team.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF has granted the ownership of the league's Wyoming Mustangs (Gillette) a 2022 expansion franchise to be located in Billings (MT). Billings has had several former indoor football teams with the most recent being the Billings Wolves that played two seasons (2015-16) in the Indoor Football League. A name-the-team contest was also announced for the new Billings team.
Women's Football Alliance: After sitting out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the full-contact WFA started its 2021 season this week. The league currently lists 9 Division-1 teams, 15 Division-2 teams and 39 Division-3 teams. The 2021 season runs through June.
American Hockey League: The AHL announced there will be no league-wide playoffs and no Calder Cup champion at the end of this 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Of the league's five divisions, only the Pacific Division will hold a post-season tournament to determine the division winner. The league also approved the calendar for the 2021-22 season that is expected to include all 31 teams.
National Women's Hockey League: The six-team NWHL announced it will hold off on adding a Montreal expansion team until the 2022-23 season due to the ongoing restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league also announced it will double each teams salary cap for next season and its next player draft will be held on June 29, 2021.
Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The PWHPA was forced to cancel its two-game tour event scheduled last month in St. Louis because one of the teams was exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The PWPHA stated the games will be rescheduled.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, recently announced several team changes for the 2021-22 season. The league's Wausau (WI) RiverWolves have come under new ownership as renamed Wausau Cyclones. The Missoula (MT) Junior Bruins have been sold and relocated to Rapid City (SD) as the Badlands Sabres. A new ownership group has taken over the Breezy Point (MN) North Stars team, which was dormant during the 2020-21 season, and renamed the team the Minnesota Loons. The NA3HL also announced a new team called the Austin Ice Bats has been added for the 2021-22 season.
Canadian Premier League: The professional CPL will push back the start of its 2021 season from the previously announced start date of May 22 due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A further update will come in two weeks. The CPL played with seven teams in its inaugural 2019 season, which was split into a 10-game Spring Season and an 18-game Fall Season. The league added the Atletico Ottawa club for 2020, but was forced to play a shortened season in which all teams played a seven-game schedule without fans in August and September at one location in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island).
National Independent Soccer League: The men's Division-III professional NISA finished its two-week Legends Cup tournament in Chattanooga (TN) last weekend with nine teams and this weekend started its 2021 Spring Season with the same nine teams aligned in a single table.
National Indoor Soccer League: The proposed new NISL announced its first team will be called the Memphis Americans based at the Landers Center in Southaven (MS). A team called the Memphis Americans played three seasons (1981-84) in the former Major Indoor Soccer League. All NISL teams will operate both a men's and a women's team.
National Women's Soccer League: The ten-team professional NWSL announced its 2021 regular-season will run from May 15 to October 31, 2021 with each team playing a 24-game schedule. The ten teams will be aligned in a single-table format. The NWSL started play last month with a 21-day Challenge Cup tournament with teams aligned in five-team East and West divisions. The division winners will play a championship game on May 8, 2021.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL announced its second league called the WPSL U21 for players under 21 years of age will start play this season with 39 teams aligned in seven regional conferences. The leagues says 16 to 20 teams have expressed interest in joining for the 2022 season.
Athletes Unlimited â Lacrosse League: The Athletes Unlimited professional women's field lacrosse league will play its inaugural five-week 2021 season at one location in Boyds (MD) of the Washington (DC) metro area from July 19 to August 22, 2021. Similar to the Athletes Unlimited women's softball and indoor volleyball leagues, lacrosse players will earn individual points during games and the top four players will serve as captains and draft the four teams for the next week. Athletes Unlimited held the first season of its softball league in Chicago this past summer and plans to return in 2021. Athletes Unlimited recently completed the first season of its volleyball league in Dallas and already announced a return for a 2022 season.
Tewaaraton Lacrosse League: The new men's TLL, which is a Canadian U-22 Junior-A indoor lacrosse league starting its inaugural spring-summer season in 2021, recently announced its third team will be the Tri City Havoc representing the Ontario markets of Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.
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