There are several different types of league structures we could implement, but assume all of these suggestions are based on the current (season 8) structure.
• Fix ZHPL by clearly defining what it is. I’ve stated this elsewhere, but to repeat:
- o ZHPL should either be a secondary, lower-skilled league for active players who don’t quite meet the top-tier skill requirement of a ZHL team, OR it should be a full-on developmental league focused heavily on player improvement and teaching.
o If ZHPL becomes a secondary, lower-skilled league, then the teams and players should have no connection whatsoever to ZHL. It should be the same as running two leagues simultaneously, where the only difference is the average skill level of the players. Should this step be taken, ZHL may want to increase its roster size to 6 or 7 to accommodate inactivity.
o If ZHPL becomes a developmental league focused on player improvement, the ZHL and ZHPL should become more tightly connected than they are now, with a number of changes, such as: integrating ZHL players in coaching roles for ZHPL teams, having top ZHLers host group classes/clinics for players irrespective of which team they are on, not having a ZHPL post-season, rotating ZHL-quality players in with ZHPL-tier players in games, selecting ZHL managers who will commit to weekly practices for or with ZHPL players, and many others.
o Another option is to scrap the ZHPL entirely, have more ZHL teams, and also host an 'elo' or 'pub' league of some sort that allows ZHPL (and below) level players to play in structured games. This would also enable the lower-skilled players to participate with ZHLers, as they should also be invited to play in the other league. There wouldn't be set teams, but teams could be randomized among any 8 players who gather and agree to play a game.
• Have 12 ZHL teams. Despite some attendance issues, I think there are enough skilled players to field 12 competent teams. I understand the argument that “2 or 3 teams were dead this season!”, but that is because there are teams with a lot of depth, not because there is a lack of moderately skilled players. Additionally, I don’t buy the argument that because X team(s) are/were bad, then something is wrong with the number of teams or the general level of skill. There will always be bad teams; there are in real sports, too. I believe that the reality is that this community will only decline/decrease in size by lowering the number of competitive teams. New/bad players, if they're capable of getting better, will only improve by playing with ZHL-level players. Therefore, the only way to expand the competitive playerbase is to allow or enable lower-skilled players to compete with better players.
• With 12 teams, divide the teams evenly into three conferences: East, Central, and West. Select owners for those teams who are from the respective team’s location. Home games *must* be played on the respective team’s server. In this scenario, even east players who are drafted by a West team will still play the majority of their games on a server that they are proficient on. I think this will encourage west players to be more active, improving the overall quality of the league.
- o This will leave a huge question as to how many games are played, how many games are played within each conference, and which team gets home/away if some teams do not play each other twice. I get all that, and there are a number of simple solutions that I won’t drone on into here.
• Reinstate trades. It may already be the case, but give the commissioner complete authority over approving trades (so long as it isn’t his team), with a 2/3 veto option for LMs.
• The FA draft should be entirely dependent on the standings of the ZHL teams, not the ZHPL teams (which I have already covered). Allow Free Agent draftees to participate in the playoffs.
• There should be no Emergency Free Agents allowed for ZHL teams, under any circumstances. If a team cannot field at least 3 players, the team forfeits the game.
- o Alternatively, completely scrap the FA draft. If we are hosting a league with a fewer number of games, this would be desirable.
• Add a semi-permanent or ‘rolling’ council of 7 to 9 mature, active, and unbiased players to serve as LMs.
- o This will serve as a replacement for the current LM selection system.
o By semi-permanent, I mean that there is no arbitrary reason to remove a player from being an LM after one season if he has served capably and is committed to serve capably the following season.
o By ‘rolling’, I mean that it may be desirable to rotate a group of 12 to 15 total eligible LMs with only 7 to 9 serving at one time.
o These players should be skilled, intelligent, and mature players who have demonstrated a leadership capability. Players should be free to nominate others for the council, and those players who are agreed upon should be entered into the eligible LM pool.
o This pool would then select the Commissioner from a list of players who have self-nominated and stated their case to the LMs regarding why they should be selected, what changes they would be in favor of, etc. The Commissioner should be unanimously approved by the LMs.
- o Big decisions such as how many teams, conferences/scheduling, ownerships, etc. should be decided by LMs, not by one person.
o The commissioner may submit proposals, but the Commissioner only counts as one vote
o A simple majority of votes should warrant the adoption of any proposals during this period of time.
- o Should the need arise (from conflict or otherwise), the LMs may overrule the Commissioner’s mid-season decision via a 2/3 majority vote.
o The rules should already be set up such that the Commissioner is mostly just enforcing them, so there should be no need to vote on most of his actions.
• Prioritize ownership selection by maturity, activity, and skill. This is already done to some degree, but should be altered to ensure that owners are of a similar level of skill, activity, and maturity (preferably a higher level of skill).
• Owners should have proven records of leadership and communication abilities.
• Owners should be committed to being available to play the vast majority of the team’s games.
• Owners should be players who recognize the value of activity in drafting a team
• Related to the previous section, owners should not be too far apart in where they are required to draft themselves; having fifth-round owners with first-round owners may be necessary, but it is not desirable.
• Several mock drafts should be created by the LMs in deciding the owner draft order to ensure fairness.
• Consider having LMs place owners into tiers, which are used to group owners by skill level; then randomize the draft order within each tier to avoid personal bias (e.g.: Vapour/Water/Ling all fall into the highest tier and will be randomly selected for 1 of the first 3 picks).
In-Game Rule Changes
• In general, lay out all rules specifically, in detail, with specific penalties for not obeying them.
• In general, the penalty structure for minor infractions could go as follows:
- o First Offense: Warning
o Second Offense: Single Game Suspension
o Third Offense: Two Game Suspension
o Fourth Offense: Five Game Suspension
o Fifth Offense: Ten Game Suspension (carried into the following season)
• If themusic does not implement a mid-ice clock rule (like halfcourt in basketball), enforce delay of game infractions seriously.
- o Delay of game should include intentionally not advancing the puck with limited/no pressure on the team with possession, but should not include ‘icing’ the puck toward the opposing team’s defensive half.