Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 13, 2021 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League's new Staten Island (NY) expansion team for 2022 has narrowed the list of potential team names to seven: the Harbor Heroes, Dragon Slayers, Ferry Hawks, Responders, Front Liners, Watch Dogs and Greenbelters. The league's Charleston-based West Virginia Power, which is playing its first season in the league, will undergo a name change to be announced between games of a doubleheader on September 28, 2021. The new permanent name will have Charleston in the name and the nickname will be two five-letter words with the second word ending in an "s." Speculation has Dirty Birds, River Toads and Rough Necks as possible choices based on DBAs (doing business as) filed with the state. The team will continue to use the Charleston Charlies nickname for Tuesday and Saturday games as it has done this season. The Charleston Charlies was the city's 1970s Triple-A team.
Double-A South League: A preliminary site plan was approved for a proposed new ballpark in Knoxville (TN) for the Tennessee Smokies (Kodak) of the Double-A South League. This is only the first step in the process as a financing plan still needs to be approved. The Smokies were based in Knoxville since 1972 and known as the Knoxville Smokies from 1993 to 1999 until moving to Kodak as the Tennessee Smokies for the 2000 season. The lease at Smokies Stadium expires in 2024.
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP started its 2021 season last weekend with ten teams aligned in a five-team Zona Este (East Division) and a five-team Zona Oeste (West Division). The LNBP operated with 12 teams last season, but the Mineros de Zacatecas, Aguacateros de Michoacan and Correcaminos Ciudad Victoria did not return. The Halcones de Xalapa-Veracruz team, which last played in the 2014-15 season, was added this season. Each team will play a 20-game schedule through October 22 followed by playoffs.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced an expansion team called the Triangle Shooters, based in Williamsburg (VA), will start play in November 2022.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada has tentatively approved a sale of the league's Newfoundland-based St. John's Edge team to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which has reached a deal in principle to purchase the team. Deacon Sports owns three ECHL hockey teams including the Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's). It is uncertain where the Edge will play, since the city signed a lease with a proposed American Basketball Association team at the Edge's former home arena. The NBL-Canada is still working on plans for a 2021-22 season after sitting idle last season. The league last played with eight teams in a 2019-20 season, but recently lost the Moncton Magic (New Brunswick) team.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF's expansion team to be based in Topeka (KS) announced it will be called the Topeka Tropics when the team starts play in the 2022 season. A close second-place nickname choice was the Topeka Taters. The CIF has three other Kansas-based teams called the Salina Liberty, Dodge City Law and Wichita Force. The CIF's recently announced 2022 Denver expansion team held a name-the-team voting contest that started with 24 names and is down to 3 finalists-the Denver Dynamite, Mile High Monsters and Colorado Cannibals. The contest winner is expected to be announced soon.
United Football League: The proposed new UFL, which is billed as America's premier spring football league, is under development and has added the Baton Rouge Redsticks team name that was used by the failed National Gridiron League (NGL), which had 12 proposed teams that never started play. The UFL looks like a remake of the NGL and now includes nine former NGL teams. Only the Indiana Blue Bombers team name has changed with a move from Fort Wayne to become the Chicago Bombers. The UFL plans to start in 2022 playing eight-man outdoor football.
North American Hockey League: The junior-level Tier-II NAHL started its 2021-22 season this weekend with 29 teams aligned in East, Central, Midwest and South divisions. The NAHL had 23 teams last season but three teams called the Jamestown (NY) Rebels, Springfield (IL) Junior Blues and Corpus Christi IceRays will return after taking voluntary leave last season. Three new teams called the El Paso Rhinos, Anchorage Wolverines and Amarillo Wranglers were also added. The Wranglers are the former Kansas City Scouts franchise, which was inactive since the move of the Topeka Pilots to Kansas City after the 2019-20 season. The Amarillo market became available after the NAHL's Amarillo Bulls moved to Mason City to become the North Iowa Bulls for the 2021-22 season.
National Women's Hockey League: The six-team NWHL announced the league has been renamed the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) as it enters its seventh season in 2021-22. The new name comes as the league has restructured its management and recently completed the sale of all franchises to private owners. The new league name also removes any gender-specific label. The PHF plans to add a Montreal team for the 2022-23 season.
United States Premier Hockey League: The independent Tier-III junior-level USPHL, which operates a Premier and an Elite level of play, started its 2021-22 season this weekend. The Premier level has 64 teams aligned in 10 regional divisions across the United States. Several Premier teams also operate teams in the lower Elite level, which has 20 teams aligned in 4 divisions in the eastern United States. New teams in the USPHL Premier for the 2021-22 season include the Hershey (PA) Cubs, Palm Beach Typhoon, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (PA) Knights, Ontario (CA) Junior Reign and Lake Tahoe (CA) Lakers. Also, the Anaheim Avalanche came under new ownership and moved to a new home as the Long Beach Shredders. The USPHL also operates the Tier-II junior-level National Collegiate Development Conference. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions across the country last season, the USPHL moved games from all three levels to a bubble environment in Tampa during January and February 2021 to finish out the season.
Western Hockey League: The 22-team major-junior WHL announced its Western Conference, which includes the five-team British Columbia Division and the five-team United States Division, will not play interdivision games in the first month (October) of the 2021-22 season due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions between Canada and the United States. The WHL previously announced the Western Conference teams would not be playing teams in the 12-team Eastern Conference during the 2021-22 regular season. The Eastern Conference teams are based in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
British Columbia Hockey League: The Wenatchee (WA) Wild, which is the only United States-based team in the 18-team Junior-A BCHL, will play its first 11 games of the 2021-22 season on the road in Canada due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced the player draft to stock the two 2022 expansion teams, the Los Angeles-based Angel City FC and a yet-to-be-named San Diego team, will be held on December 16, 2021. The NWSL will grow to 12 members with the addition of the new teams and a few other markets have expressed interest in an NWSL team.
Tewaaraton Lacrosse League: The new TLL men's Canadian Junior-A indoor lacrosse league for players age 22 and under has not been able to start play as planned this summer. A planned showcase/combine event scheduled for last month in St. Catharines (Ontario), and in conjunction with the professional National Lacrosse League, had to be cancelled. The TLL is not sanctioned by the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA) and the OLA threatened players with a two-year suspension if they play in any events sponsored by a non-sanctioned league.
American Ultimate Disc League: The 22-team professional AUDL completed its 2021 season this weekend. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions between Canada and the United States, the league realigned its 19 U.S.-based teams into three divisions, while the league's three Canadian teams (Toronto Rush, Montreal Royal and Ottawa Outlaws) competed only against each other and played a shorter season in a Canada Cup competition.
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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