WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

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BKarchitect
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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:09 pm

WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION

Thought I'd start a new thread for this endeavor even though technically it's going to be part of my next release of NHL32 (Seattle). A whole new league is an ambitious add, specifically one that aims to play a high level of hockey (right now, looking like somewhere between the AHL & NHL). So keep in mind this is a work in progress.

The idea for the WHA was born from a failed experiment of mine to have the NHL36 database have promotion and relegation from the NHL to the AHL (or some "extra" league). It turns out that the way dates are setup and the way the NHL draft is setup along with NHL rights - it's really not possible to make this a functioning idea. But I still wanted a way to get all the NHL36 franchises & identities into the game without having separate database sets. Maintaining all of this was increasingly time consuming.

So - out of the ashes of failure came the idea to simply have a born-again WHA professional league that aims to play very high level hockey and have the financial backing to lure some NHL quality talents. It is completely independent of the NHL/AHL/ECHL hierarchy. The teams have reputations and financial backing much greater than say the AHL teams but they won't generate quite the revenue that NHL teams do. And the geographical setup, as you will see in follow-up posts, is quite interesting along with an exciting new club championship competition that spans multiple leagues and continents.

My goal here is to really breakdown the concept of the league for everybody and then once I've done some more testing, let people take WHA clubs for a spin to give further input, as it will be part of the next NHL32 - Seattle release (along with a myriad of other updates months in the making). So this thread is something of a chemistry lab for me to post results of testing, listen to ideas and eventually get feedback from users.

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Before I begin, let me give proper logo concept credit...while I've tweaked a few logos, added a few of my own and formatted everything to look sharp in dani9-style logo format, the bulk of these concepts have been developed by very talented individuals (ie, not me!). None of the work should be distributed without credit (better yet - simply don't redistribute any of my databases or tweak one or two little things and pass it off as your own) and none of this work is for anything other than free, fun personal use. I'll include a text of credits in with the database archive file.

- Saskatchewan logo: Christian Legault, http://legaultdesigns.blogspot.com/
- Kansas City logo: FinsUp1214 @ Sportslogos.net, http://boards.sportslogos.net/topic/113 ... urrection/
- Seattle, Portland, Halifax logos: Jim Brewster, aka Sparky Chewbarky, twitter @sparkychewbarky
- London: Fraser Davidson, https://dribbble.com/fraserdavidson
- Toronto (Toros) logo: Dylan Nowak, https://www.behance.net/DylanNowak
- Brussels logo: Co-opted from Cold Lake High School; design by Slavo Kiss, https://slavokiss.com/
- Copenhagen logo: Co-opted from League of Legends eSports team; design by Tom Smith, https://www.behance.net/aspheriaaa
- Oslo logo: from an existing Oslo hockey club
- PSG logo: obviously, the actual PSG club logo
- Amsterdam logo: From the defunct NHL Europe club
- Atlanta, California, Hartford, Houston, Hamilton, Montreal, Quebec: All former professional team logos, some touched up
- WHA logo: Hey, I actually did something :)
Last edited by BKarchitect on Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BKarchitect
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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:22 pm

WHA Reborn

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I won't go into a lot of detail of the history of the original WHA (wikipedia is your friend) but needless to say that while it ultimately failed - the idea of a quirky league with the backing and foresight to challenge - or at least offer an alternative to, the NHL, has been around for a long time.

With that said, here is the structure of the WHA - the QMJHL with it's three division setup was used as a starting point:

AMERICAN DIVISION
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CANADIAN DIVISION
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EUROPEAN DIVISION
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Yup, that's right - the WORLD Hockey Association is truly going to live up to its moniker and span the Atlantic to Europe. The goal behind the European Division was to highlight global cities in Western Europe to try and tap into new markets. Think of it as similar to KHL expansion into Eastern Europe. The premier countries and leagues that are already established (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, etc) were left untouched. Rather, big cities in countries with smaller and less important domestic leagues was the goal.

As part of this, I've given a boost to hockey importance and reputation in the countries that now have WHA outposts, to hopefully encourage a stronger local market of hockey player development that these teams can tap into in the future.

BKarchitect
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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:25 pm

WHA Rules

The WHA clubs play a 68-game schedule from September to April. 16 of the 18 teams will make the playoffs (similar to the QMJHL) - 16 just gives a nice playoff format (I know that's a high percentage!). The first three rounds are 5-game series with the championship being a 7-game series. Champions, Runners-Up and Regular Season winners are all recorded in league history.

Some difference in rules are:
- 3 Points for a Win
- Automatic Icing
- Shootout goals count as goals for player stats
- Rink size varies by club - generally the Euros play on international sized ice and the North American teams on smaller ice. This could result in having to shift tactics and line-ups based on who and where you are playing.

The salary cap is set at $85 million to match the NHL's (inflated in NHL32 to help the CPU out). But there is no floor and most clubs seem to hoover in the $25-50 million range when left to the CPU making all the decisions. Contract AAV limits are similar to the NHL. Anybody 25 or under can be signed to a 3-year entry level deal.

Each club has a feeder "junior" level club that will hopefully generate some younger prospects that, while not able to sign pro contracts, can be called up to the main club to play. Very Euro-style. However, it is quite likely that this prospects will still want to play junior or college hockey so actually signing them has proven a bit tricky.

Sample Standings Screen
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BKarchitect
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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:34 pm

The International Club Cup!

I mentioned before an exciting new multi-national and continental competition as part of the WHA and here it is called the International Club Cup...sorry no branding for it yet, I'll add graphics in time. But I've tested it and it works awesome!

Here's the premise...we have the NHL, this singular all-important hockey league entity - it's the cream of the crop. But below that, there's a whole WORLD of teams and leagues out there and I wanted a competition to represent the "Best of the Rest" so to speak.

So, the ICC is an annual club Cup competition at the end of each season (late April, before the Euro leagues player contracts expire on May 1). It features 4 clubs who play a round-robin, 3-game quickfire league schedule with the top 2 teams then facing off in a winner-takes-all match to be crowned ICC Champion and earn the title of "Best Club in the World Outside the NHL".

So where do the 4 clubs come from each season?

1) The newly-minted WHA champion
2) The KHL champion
3) The winner of the Champions Hockey League (CHL) - which gives a path for the top clubs in leagues outside of Russia like Swede, Finland, Czech, Germany, Swiss, etc
4) The winner of the Continental Cup - which allows a "minnow" team from a smaller European nation to get a shot to participate and perhaps upset some giants!

The competition is held every season at The O2 Arena in London - picked for its glamorous location, state-of-the-art facility and high capacity as well as give the competition a foothold in a non-traditional market - but one that straddles the line between North America and Continental Europe.

More to come on this...but it's proven really fun and interesting in test sims...

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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:50 pm

Finished a logo for the ICC - the Atlanta Thrashers beat KHL power SKA for the 2030 ICC title in this sim that is in 2030!

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BKarchitect
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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:51 pm

Beta Test Sim 1.0 - Early Observations After 1 Full Season (Fall 2019)

- The European clubs, because of their high reputation in relationship to the real domestic clubs in their respective countires, tend to easily recruit and sign the top players of their nationality. For example, by the 19-20 season, Oslo Tigers had signed 5 of the top 7 Norwegian hockey players by reputation (basically everybody but Zuccarello still under contract with the Rangers) and 9 players on the Norwegian National Team. Likewise, London Monarchs had started to gobble up the top British players and youth prospects, although the GB National Team still was overwhelmingly represented by the EIHL. Teams like Brussels and Amsterdam, with less national prospects to begin with, tend to fill out their roster with Canadians, Americans and a smattering of other European nationalities.

- The North American clubs seem to strictly sign North Americans...ultimately I'd like to figure out how I can get them to sign at least a few Europeans but there are so many North American players in the database, they have no issues filling their rosters and being competative. And it won't stop you as a human GM of a North American team from rying to sign Euros - but they may be less likely to come.

- The WHA clubs definitely will go after and sign NHL resctricted free agents...though at least initially they are more of the younger fringe prospects, not big names. The NHL clubs still own the rights even after they sign with a WHA team, meaning there's a chance they could be signed by their NHL club and leave at basically any point. Here's a list for example by club of NHL RFA's signed in that first real off-season period (summer 2019):

*Atlanta: Perron (SJS), Kubel (PHI), Lernout (MTL), Hill (ARI), Dauphin (ARI)
*California: None
*Hartford: Bigras (NYR), Bishop (CAR)
*Houston: Greer (COL), McKeown (CAR), Gates (ANA)
*Kansas City: None
*Portland: Elie (BUF), Mayo (ARI)
*Hamilton: Carcone (TOR)
*Montreal: Martel (TBL), MacInnis (CBJ), Dougherty (BUF)
*Quebec: Robinson (CLB), Poturalski (CAR)
*Saskatchewan: Dries (COL), Saigeon (COL), Brickley (LAK), Mitchell (LAK)
*Toronto: De Leo (ANA), Carrick (CAR), Wolhberg (NJD)
*Amsterdam: Englund (OTT)
*Brussels: Merzlikins (CLB)
*Copenhagen: From (CHI), Russell (EDM), Jensen (NYR) - Not coincidentally, all three are Danish
*London: None
*Oslo: Malone (BUF)
*PSG: Sveningsson (CGY)

It's not a glamorous list but there are some guys with NHL experience and some decent young prospects in that mix. And WHA clubs will offer way better contracts for many of these RFA's than their NHL clubs will. Atlanta lured Perron, who is a pretty interesting prospect, with a 2-year deal with $3.44 million per season. You can probably sign some solid talents who are still owned by NHL clubs if you are willing to extend them lucrative offers (compared to what they would get in the NHL).

- Average age by the second season of the WHA clubs falls in the 24-27 range, putting the league about on par with the NHL in terms of age breakdown. Clubs tend to be a mix of lower level NHL guys, Euro league vets and a lot of guys just out of juniors or college who weren't drafted or didn't get NHL offers and are trying to establish themselves. Again, this is just after year one...it will be interesting to watch how the breakdown of the WHA clubs evolves over time.

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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:52 pm

Beta Test Sim 1.0 - Sim Check-Up: 2029

I've got one test sim going, we are at the start of the 2029-30 season now, thought I'd see how the CPU is handling WHA teams:

- Looks like club salaries are mostly in the $25 million to $50 million range.

- Top players generally earn in the $3-4 million per year bracket but there are some outliers. Here's a look at the WHA's top earners:

1) Stelio Mattheos, Atlanta: $7.9 million. Mattheos is a former 2nd round pick of the Canes. He's now 30 and having never made it past the AHL, he jumped to the WHA 7 years ago and has been a big scorer for the Thrashers ever since, the second highest active scorer in the league. He's even made 16 appearences on Team Canada, scoring 12 points. The Canes still own his rights but likely never wanting to match his WHA salary, I doubt he goes back to the NHL.
2) Marcus Kallionkieli, Oslo: $6.55 million. Kallionkieli was a 2nd rounder of the Wild in 2019. He made the Wild at a young age and had a 10 goal rookie season in 2020-21 but was back in the AHL for a couple years after that before jumping to the WHA with Oslo where he is entering his 7th season with the Tigers. Has 21 points in 44 appearances for the Finnish national team.
3) Brannon McManus, PSG: $6.1 million. The California native was never drafted out of the University of Minnesota. Spent some time in Switzerland and Great Britain and PSG are his 4th WHA club. Has 14 points in 21 appearances for Team USA in internation play.
4) Austin Wagner, Atlanta: $5.75 million. The former LA Kings forward has been a big-time WHA scorer since jumping leagues 9 seasons ago and is the league active leader in points. Now 32, Wagner has also appeared 34 times for Team Canada, with 17 points.
5) Ian Mitchell, Copenhagen: $5.35 million. Former 2nd round Blackhawks pick whose NHL rights are curently owned by the Habs. Was a star in the AHL but never could quite crack the Blackhawks roster. Has been a nomad in the WHA as at age 30, the Wolves are his 6th WHA club. Has appeared in 32 games for Team Canada.

- The Whitetails are the reigning league champs and the msot successful team in league history with 3 WHA titles. Incredibly, they have also "done the double" 3 times - each of the seasons they won the WHA, they also went on to win the International Club Cup, most recently defeating the KHL's Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
- Quebec and PSG have 2 titles each, while 1-time winners are Toronto, Hartford, Portland and Hamilton. This means that in 11 seasons, 7 different teams in the 18-team league have won the WHA.
- The Whitetails are the only team to repeat as champs in back-to-back years. Quebec had the most points in the regular season 3 straight years but one the title only once in that time.
- Appearing in title games but with no wins yet are Halifax, Houston, Copenhagen and Montreal. This means 11 of the 18 teams have at least appeared in the title game in 11 seasons.
- By division of the 11 champs: 7 have been Canadian, 2 American and 2 European (only PSG has won from Europe).
- Niklas Nordgren set the league record so far with 38 goals (remember, 68 game season) in 2024-25. He's since returned to Finland to play.
- Sean Tschigerl, the Avs 1st rounder in 2021, holds the league record for points in a season with 91 in 68 games in 2027-28. Tschigerl is an interesting case as he made the Avs a year after getting drafted and by age 21 was a young star who had a 48 point NHL season under his belt. It appears he reached a contract impasse though after his rookie deal expired and he jumped to Quebec in the WHA where he dominated for 3 straight seasons. Last year, he was able to come back to terms with the Avs on a 9 year, $6.75 million deal and all he did was light the NHL up with 77 points. He's the kind of star talent that hopefully the WHA can attract more of, even if its only a short-term basis.
- The most dominant stretch of play by a goalie in the WHA has been Jack Campbell, who was spectacular in a 3 year stint with PSG from 2021 to 2024. He left to go back to the NHL in 2025 (after an additional season abroad in the KHL) and has been a solid NHL starting goalie ever since, with Boston, Calgary and now back with the Kings at age 37.

- ICC History. Here's a breakdown of International Club Champions in 2029. There have been 11 tournaments. WHA has 5 wins, KHL has 5 wins and CHL has 1 win. No victors (to be expected) from Continental Cup. WHA has been in the finals 9 times, 7 for the KHL while the CHL has made it 6 times but only has the 1 win to show for it.
- KHL powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg is by FAR the most successful team, with 5 ICC titles and a runner's up. As mentioned, the Whitetails lead the WHA with 3 wins while Quebec and Hartford also have titles. The lone CHL title was provided by Sweden's Linkoping. Sweden's Farjestad and Frolunda (x2) have also made the finals while Pardubice from the Czech Republic have been runner's up twice. No Finnish, Swiss, German, etc teams have made it to the ICC finals as of yet.

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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by archibalduk » Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:54 am

I really like this idea and especially the range of teams. Aside from the teams, there's a lot that reminds me of the original WHA (from my limited knowledge) - the relative lack of Europeans, the rivalry between Canada/WHA and Russia, signing young NHL talent, etc. :thup: We just need the modern day version of the Hot Line and the Hanson brothers! :-D

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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by BKarchitect » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:37 pm

LOL...thanks Archi.

After some frustrations I've finally gotten WHA awards implemented and running error free. Turns out if you add "players to vote" for certain awards, it crashes the game. I was trying to give 3 players to vote for for all the major awards with no luck (when implemented, it allows you, as a GM, to have a vote at the end of the year for the awards from 3 finalists). So I just did away with it. It'll still show you the top 3 finishes in each award race though.

The awards for the most part are named after the real WHA awards from back in the day, with a few extra trophies added and offensive and defensive players of the week and month, rookie of the month and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and All-Rookie teams at the end of the season. Basically your full array of NHL awards but for the WHA to add some nice historical tracking ability.

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WHA Reboot - League Info & Testing

Post by xECK29x » Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:36 am

This looks like it's going to be a TON of fun to play, very excited!

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