Assuming the brand-spanking new IHL/CHL coalition adopts the Central Hockey League's rules and regulations, a Quad-City Mallards squad that finished sixth in the rough-and-tumble, seven-team International Hockey League last season could benefit significantly.
The two leagues will join forces next season under the CHL umbrella in what is, depending on who is talking, either a new day for Double-A pucks or an illusion designed to maintain the old IHL order.
Representatives of the two leagues apparently will decide exactly which when they iron out details of their new partnership in the coming days.
Reports out of northeast Indiana indicate the now three-time IHL champion Fort Wayne Komets intend to fight to keep in this corner of the Midwest the veteran-intensive, slugly brand of hockey that has created what amounts to a Franke fiefdom.
Mallards managing member Chris Lencheski. on the other hand, appears to favor a mass move toward a speedier game with younger players, which would happen by adopting league-wide a CHL rule book that limits on-ice obstruction and allows teams four fewer veterans than the eight allowed under IHL rules.
"I think we only had two or three veterans on our team anyway so that rule won't be much of a change for us," said Chris Lipsett, one of four Q-C assistant captains last year. "There are going to be some teams in our league that are going to have to make some tough decisions this summer."
Mallards coach Frank Anzalone, who remains under Q-C contract, declined comment on the combined league, pending further details.
But he spent a good part of his debut Q-C season critiquing the clutching-grabbing style of hockey employed by a number the IHL teams that finished ahead of his Mallards and one perfected, of course, by the Komets.
Luke Stauffacher was a Mallard during the Q-C team's final season in a UHL that ultimately adopted the IHL moniker and later enjoyed success with the IHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks.
He played 13 CHL games last year in Tulsa.
"I had a good experience in Tulsa, and I (also) have good things to say, probably more than other people, about the IHL and UHL," he said. "I enjoyed playing that style of hockey, and it was fun for me."
But he said Q-C fans who enjoyed the faster, cleaner hockey played by the American Hockey League's Quad-City Flames from 2007 to 2009 would like the CHL rules much better,
"They call it a lot tighter so you are going to see a lot less hooking, and you end up with more speed because of that," Stauffacher said.
Among IHL holdovers, Lipsett predicted that could mean more power plays early on.
"But then it calms down closer to the playoffs," said the 36-year-old veteran, whose 15-year career includes three CHL campaigns.
A rugged middleweight who wracked up 221 penalty minutes to go with 42 goals and 71 points for the 2006-2007 Mallards, Stauffacher managed to collect 38 penalty minutes in his 13-game Tulsa tenure.
So, he said, fans of the physical wouldn't be disappointed by the CHL game.
"You've still got your fighters and you've still got your tough guys on every team," he said of the CHL. "All that doesn't change."
What will be interesting is what news dribbles out in the coming days about what the Fort Wayne folks are insisting is not a merger of the two leagues, but rather a loose affiliation instead.
It seems this so-called revolution to the minor-league hockey landscape can be a significant change for the better.
Or, perhaps, much ado about nothing too very new.