HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For the third straight year, a new franchise is joining the Southern Professional Hockey League. The SPHL announced this week that Moline, Illinois will be the home of the new Quad City franchise. Quad City will be the 11th team in the SPHL, and the league's second franchise in Illinois.
The Southern Professional Hockey League expanding its reach further north. Moline is more than 14 from Pensacola, and it's a 10-hour drive for the defending champion Huntsville Havoc.
Despite the long commute, head coach Glenn Detulleo says the expansion is great for the league. "I mean it just shows that the business model is working, and hockey is alive and well here in the south, and in these markets. Anyone that's come to our games, and a lot of different places in our league, they can see that the fan support is incredible," coach Detulleo told WHNT News 19. "Other teams, other places, and other cities want to be a part of that. I think the last hand full of years here especially, the SPHL has done a great job with its marketing, and the product on the ice just keeps getting better and better."
This also means there will be an expansion draft. Current teams can only protect 13 players on their roster, Quad City then gets to pick from the remaining players, up to two from each club.
The Havoc doesn't want to lose anyone from its championship team, but Detulleo says he understands this is the cost of growth. "It's so early in the offseason here, you aren't even sure which guys are going to play and not play. You try to make a list," Detulleo said. "There is a little bit of guessing, so yeah some guys are going to be left exposed to the expansion draft. We had a really deep team, and winning a championship we had a lot of talent. If Quad City gets one or two of our guys, I think it will be great for those guys to be part of a new franchise in our league. It will be great for Quad City to pick up some quality players too."