LAKHSHL growing, expanding for ‘16-17 high school season
The L.A. Kings High School Hockey League (LAKHSHL) may have just finished its inaugural season, but that doesn’t mean the league isn’t already looking forward.
The Kings league will expand for the 2016-17 season, as it plans to add seven new teams to the eight it had in its inaugural season – two varsity squads and five junior varsity teams.
All eight varsity teams from the first season will return – the champion Santa Barbara Royals (pictured), the Kern County Knights, the West Ranch Wildcats, the South County Aviators, the East County Outlaws, the El Segundo Strikers, the Burbank Cougars (formerly the San Gabriel Valley Cougars) and the Santa Clarita Cobras. Joining them in the varsity division will be the Torrance Destroyers and Valencia High School.
The new junior varsity division will be made up of the East County Outlaws, Santa Barbara Royals, Kern County Knights, Torrance Destroyers and West Ranch Wildcats.
“Adding more teams is definitely a positive, but we are very careful to make sure that we are growing at a rate that everyone can handle,” said Kings alumni, TV analyst and league commissioner Jim Fox.
“I think the JV programs are a very important part of our growth. We must make sure that the foundation is strong before we add teams just for the sake of adding teams. We have to make sure that the proper structure is in place as far as coaching, skill development and continuing to build the team pride that we feel is very important or our plan.
“Our first goal is to make sure that hockey is an option for anyone who wants to continue playing, but we must stress the necessary skills and game knowledge, as well as making sure we have the necessary ice time to ensure our growth. If we operate quality programs, we will grow. But the quality has to be there first.”
Brandon Convery will take over as the head coach of the Destroyers as they move from the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League to the LAKHSHL – a move that makes sense for the team geographically. A 14-year pro who suited up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Kings in the NHL, he coached for six seasons at the AAA level with the L.A. Jr. Kings and started a hockey school after his playing career. He now runs a company that specializes in motivation and leadership, and was eager to get back into the hockey world when the opportunity came up with the Destroyers.
“This allows me to give back to the local communities and help out with what the Kings are trying to develop,” Convery said. “I’ll bring along the assistant coach (Jeff Bain) that I worked with at the Jr. Kings. We had a lot of success developing players and providing a great experience for players and families, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.”
Fox said he’s proud of the effort that the Kings staff has put behind efforts to make their high school hockey league successful. That’s already bearing fruit, though he knows there is still plenty of work to be done.
“Our staff commits endless hours to ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible, and it goes beyond that,” Fox said. “The relationships that have been built and nurtured during our first year will last a lifetime and beyond, and our staff understands the importance of building relationships and working with people.
“We feel that our goals and the steps that need to be taken to accomplish these goals are in place and we have a long-term plan to reach these goals, but we also realize that not everyone is in agreement with us or on the same timeline. We ask those people for their patience as we strive to make our high school program a positive, well-rounded experience for everyone involved.”
– Greg Ball