The NAHL launched its first season in April, 2013, but its design and development has been in the works for several years. It was created to continue improving upon the concept started by the in-house, Mt.Lebanon USL. It is important to note that the USL was not an independent organization. As a program of the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department, there were many Department policies that limited the USL’s ability to evolve further in the direction intended by its founding fathers Some of the specific objectives of the NAHL include:
Independence. The NAHL is an independent 40 and over hockey league.
The ability to set the minimum skill level of its participants. Although the USL founders tried to set this limitation, the Mt. Lebanon Rec Dept. controlled the registration process and accepted anyone who signed up. The NAHL will invite players who fit into the general skill level of what was considered A & B in the USL.
Minimial contact and no aggressive play. The NAHL will adhere strictly to USA Hockey rules. Unlike the USL, the NAHL will have the ability and authority to remove players from the league.
Hand-picked referees. The NAHL will contract directly with a select, small number of qualified referees. This is a critically important part of being able to enforce the no contact / no aggressive play policy as well as maintaining consistent officiating throughout the league. The USL had no input regarding which referees were assigned to its games and this became a source of great frustration. The large number of USL referees alone made it impossible to maintain any officiating consistency. And it seems they ranged in age from 18 to 80, which only added to the disparity in the experience/consistency ratio.
Safety. This objective is #1 in priority but is intentionally listed fifth because objectives #2, 3 & 4 above contribute directly to a safer hockey experience. Almost everyone has been involved in a situation where a weaker skater has caused an accident on the ice. And we also know that the inability of officials to set the tone of play can directly impact the “chippiness” of a game. Enough said.
More ice time. NAHL rosters will be limited to 12 skaters. One of the great accomplishments of the USL was limiting rosters to 12 skaters. Almost everyone agrees that two lines, i.e. ten skaters is optimal and no one likes to float or have floaters go through the lines.
Venue independence. Although the inaugural NAHL season was played at the MTL rink, the league is independent and as such, has complete freedom to buy ice time from any facility. This gives the league the opportunity to find and possibly negotiate better times and cost if other nearby rinks would like our business. Currently, we play most of our games a the Ice Castle in Castle Shannon.