It’s starting to look less like a marriage than a tentative first date, as there’s no legal merger between the CHL and the IHL on the schedule at this time — but that first date could end up being more, as the four remaining IHL teams will remain as a bloc for the next two seasons before revisiting the issue of full merger with the CHL.
We have some parameters of the working agreement between the CHL and the IHL as the two sides hammer out an operating agreement. First, there’s no merger, there’s no combining of business efforts. Instead, both sides will remain separate and distinct legal entities. (With some good reason: the CHL has a slighty different business structure than does the IHL.) There will be the appearance of merged operations — like a joint press guide and some sort of joint logo on sweaters — but they will be for appearance only, at least at the beginning.
The four remaining IHL teams — Fort Wayne, Quad Cities, Dayton and Bloomington — will play every other team in the IHL seven times each home and road. The rest of the schedule will be filled in with CHL teams. It’s a handy way for the IHL to buy some time — the league would like to return to Flint and Port Huron and is working to put a team at the new Evansville arena — without having to go to the trouble of changing business operations to play in the CHL.