Monday, 20 August 2018

Moving West On I-90

It seems as though this decision should have been made some time ago, but the CWHL's Boston Blades are moving for the 2018-19 season. After struggling to attract fans and battling direct competition in Boston from the American women's league's Boston-based team, the Blades pulled the trigger on a move that will see them head an hour west of Boston to Worcester, Massachusetts where they will call the DCU Center home! As you can see in the image, they'll also be sporting a new logo next season that reflects the move to Worcester, and I applaud the league and the team for making this decision to move to a new market.

Worcester has been home to AHL teams for both the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks, and now has a permanent resident in the ECHL's Worcester Railers who began play in 2017-18 that are affiliated with the New York Islanders. The Railers averaged just under 4400 fans per game last season for a team that went 37-27-8, and that landed them smack-dab in the middle of the attendance figures at 13th-best in the league. Considering that the Blades often played in front of dozens up to a few hundred fans, moving to a market where they can piggy-back off the Railers' success at the box office seems like a good idea.

The Blades will not play in the 12,239-seat DCU Center, however, as they will call the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center home. The Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center is the practice facility for the Worcester Railers, and it has enough room for 750 fans in the Blue Rink. That's a perfect size for the Blades, who will share the ice with the Worcester University Lancers, and it gives the Blades a pile of amenities to work with as there is a restaurant, a café, a fitness center, a physical therapy center, skate sharpening facilities, and a pro shop where merchandise will likely be available.

I can't say that this move will be reflected in the standings immediately. Boston needs some help, but they're starting to piece together a solid front office. General Manager Derek Alfama brings some good experience at the NCAA level with Providence, and he should have some insight on players who can start rebuilding the Blades. Head Coach Paul Kennedy worked extensively with Hockey USA as the Power Skating Coach for the Women's National Team, and he'll have the team ready to skate hard once the puck drops.

Everything is new for the Blades this year. New rink, new city, new logo, new GM, new head coach. They'll be entertaining, they'll have moments of greatness and sorrow, and they'll be out in the Worcester community. The only thing they want from you, Blades fans in Massachusetts, is your bums in Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center seats. Get out there and support the Blades because they're kicking off a whole new chapter in their history!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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