Teams expressing interest in joining NPHL

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The NPHL has heard from two communities expressing interest in joining the league next season with a possible third in play.

NPHL president Michael Mercredi says people from Slave Lake and Fox Creek “have reached out” to him regarding entry. The High Prairie Regals also remain in play to join the existing seven teams: Dawson Creek Canucks, Falher Pirates, Fort St. John Flyers, Grande Prairie Athletics, Manning Comets, Spirit River Rangers, and Valleyview Jets.

Mercredi says each team will be invited to the spring meeting to present its case. The existing teams in good standing vote on accepting or denying expansion teams.

Mercredi declined to disclose who contacted him saying inquiries were made by the reps and they would be advised on what was required if they proceeded with an application.

The obvious detriment to an application is the travel. Slave Lake is 116 km east of High Prairie while Fox Creek is 80 km south of Valleyview. Slave Lake would be two hours away from its closest rival, assuming the High Prairie Regals do not re-enter the league. It may present scheduling concerns with existing teams in the regular season, and especially in playoffs.

Falher Pirates’ president Gilbert Desharnais declined to comment on possible expansion preferring to wait until the league meeting.

In High Prairie, Jim McLean is working on submitting an application. The Regals, who are tied with the Grimshaw Huskies with the most league titles at 13, last played in the NPHL in 2018-19.

The Huskies last played in the NPHL in 2022-23 before leaving just before the season started last year. Mercredi says he has talked to Grimshaw reps over the summer and it appears it is unlikely the Huskies will return unless there is renewed interest soon.

The NPHL has not yet called its spring meeting.

The NPHL constitution only allows teams to apply for entry at the spring meeting. It does not mean teams cannot apply in the fall, however, but the process is more difficult. The constitution allows teams to call a special meeting to discuss any topic if the majority of teams sign a letter directing the league executive to do so. In terms of an expansion bid, it has never happened before.

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