The leagues have grown together.
“What has happened [in the NA3HL] is very similar to what has happened in the North American Hockey League,” said Frankenfeld, who took over as commissioner of that league in 2007. “The Central States Hockey League that we took over was essentially a bus league in Michigan and the Chicago, Illinois, area and it has really grown into a nationally branded league.
Records in Frankenfeld’s office show cooperation between the NAHL and CSHL prior to his arrival. One of Frankenfeld’s early goals — one that he assumes others shared — was for each NAHL team to one day to have access to its own Tier III team.
In the past decade, the NAHL has moved closer to that idea. It has developed the national Tier III league to mirror the NAHL while combining measures that make sense for the business side of the franchises with player-development ideals.
There have been a lot of changes to process along the way.
Frankenfeld has guided growth in the Texas market while measuring interest in California and Florida.
“We’re 10 years young and we’re going through some growing pains and evolution just like anything does until you get to a certain real stable place,” Frankenfeld said. “We’re real close to that stable place.”
That stability is the next goal Frankenfeld has in mind.
While there is reason for the NAHL to be proud of its growth, Frankenfeld also praises the United States Hockey League. the only Tier I league in the U.S., for the number of teams it has in particular markets for a long time.
Strengthening some of the newer markets for the long-term can help in that next step.