WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Wild, seeking to move to the British Columbia Hockey League for the 2013-14 season, expect to find out by mid-February whether they can proceed with the application, Wild president and managing partner Bill Stewart said Wednesday.
The Wild, who were denied application to the BCHL last winter, will begin the application process next week by first applying to USA Hockey. USA Hockey is the governing body for amateur ice hockey in the United States, and must approve the Wild to move from their current league, the North American Hockey League.
“We’re just submitting paperwork to USA Hockey (next week) to get the ball rolling and see if they will approve it,” Stewart said.
USA Hockey denied the Wild’s bid to switch leagues in December 2011, but reversed its decision after reviewing an appeal by the franchise in February 2012. That delayed the Wild’s application to the BCHL, however, and the Canadian league eventually denied the team membership in March because it had set its 2012-13 season alignment and rules in January 2012.
Stewart said he does not expect the Wild’s current application to be an open-and-shut case with USA Hockey.
“It’s not an easy process,” he said.
If USA Hockey allows the Wild to pursue a league change, the team would have to apply separately to the BCHL.
“(The BCHL has) our standing application. The problem to all this is getting approved on the south side of the border,” Stewart said.
Travel woes are the Wild’s main reason for pursuing a league change. In the NAHL, the Wild’s home since its inaugural season in 2008-09, their closest opponent is the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters, who are a 920-mile bus ride away. On the other hand, all 16 BCHL teams are within 635 miles of Wenatchee.
“The travel is easier (in the BCHL). It’s easier on the kids — they won’t be missing a lot of school,” Stewart said. “From our perspective the travel is less on our budget. We would have 10 or 11 teams within a six-hour bus ride. It’s also good for our fans, in that our fans can travel (to BCHL locations).”