Thursday, June 21, 2007

UHL becomes International Hockey League

In a live announcement broadcast via United Hockey League corporate partner B2 Networks on Wednesday at the league’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, the UHL announced that it is immediately changing its name to the International Hockey League (IHL).

Paul Pickard has been named the first President/CEO of the new IHL.

The IHL will consist of six teams in its inaugural season. The Bloomington PrairieThunder, the Flint Generals, the Fort Wayne Komets, the Kalamazoo Wings and the Muskegon Fury join the league after being member clubs of the UHL during the 2006-07 season.

The sixth IHL team will be the Port Huron Icehawks based in Port Huron. New governors Frank Kinney and Robert Lahiff will be announcing more details about their hockey club in the near future. The Generals also had a recent ownership change as the transition from the former owners to Bob Perani was approved by the league.

“I am excited to announce the new IHL, and I am excited to lead the new era of this league,” stated Pickard. “One of the key focuses of the IHL Board of Governors and the league office will be to make on- and off-ice changes for the 2007-08 season that will create a better experience for the fans. At the top of the list, we are going to put an emphasis on strong ownership so that the fans can count on our member clubs being a long-term part of the IHL and on making the on-ice product much more physical and exciting.”

The IHL also announced its Executive Committee for the 2007-08 season. The Chairman of the Board of Governors will be Michael Franke of Fort Wayne and the Vice Chairman will be Bob Perani of Flint.

Below is other information that was given during the live broadcast and/or transpired during the annual meeting:

- The IHL office will be located in Rochester and will consist of four employees, league counsel and the president/CEO. During the summer, the UHL office in Lake St. Louis, Mo., will close and transition to the new office in Michigan. Existing UHL employees have been given the opportunity to relocate to the new league office.
- The IHL league website is being launched this evening at
- The new logo for the league was unveiled during the broadcast.
- The 76-game 2007-08 season will take place between October 19, 2007 and April 6, 2008.
- A deal was signed with B2 Networks to broadcast all IHL games via broadband for the next three seasons.


Paul L. Pickard has been named President/CEO of the new International Hockey League. He immediately begins his duties of running the six-team league whose member clubs were formerly in the United Hockey League.

“I am honored to have been chosen to the lead the IHL and usher in a new era of professional minor league hockey,” stated Pickard. “The IHL model is to have strong ownership of member clubs in an isolated geographical area so that we can provide intense and exciting rivalries and family affordable entertainment. There will be special focus to make our on-ice product much more physical without the goon tactics associated with the old IHL.”

Pickard’s strong background in facility management and professional hockey makes him an ideal person to lead the new IHL. Pickard was recently promoted to the President of the Stadium Management Corporation after serving as Vice President and General Manager of the Wings Stadium Complex and the Kalamazoo Wings from 1999-2007.

Pickard served as the Chairman of the United Hockey League Board of Governors for the past two seasons. He twice earned awards as UHL Governor of the Year (2004-05, 2005-06) and UHL General Manager of the Year (2003-04, 2006-07). The K-Wings won the Colonial Cup as league champion for the 2005-06 season. In addition, he has been a head coach in the NAHL and the ECHL, an assistant coach in the AHL and a player in the old IHL.

Pickard and his wife, Brenda, have been married 24 years and have two boys, Bryon and Brad, as well as three grandchildren, Caitlin, Gavin and Zoe.


The International Hockey League announced today new rules that will be in effect for the 2007-08 season.

The rule changes are as follows:
- The instigator penalty has been eliminated except during the final five minutes of a game.
- The game lineup has been increased to 17 skaters and 2 goaltenders.
- In regards to secondary altercations, players will receive a 10-minute misconduct as opposed to a game misconduct.
- If a dive and hook occur on the same play, only one penalty is to be called. Diving takes precedence over hooking in that situation.
- Officials will have tighter standards in the neutral zone and a looser standard in the attacking zone to promote battles in the corners and in front of the net.
- With a tied score at the end of regulation, there will be a 5 minute 4 vs. 4 sudden-death period. If the score remains tied after the overtime period, a three-skater shootout will take place (advancing to sudden-death if needed). There will be no resurfacing of the ice before the shootout.


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