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Deep Dive #1 - Comparing the S46 Expansion Teams
(This post was last modified: 03-20-2024, 05:57 PM by JKortesi81. Edited 1 time in total.)

S46 Expansion Fun

In Season 46, the SHL expanded, adding two new teams: the New Orleans Specters, GM’d by yours truly and the Chicago Syndicate, run by the great Velvera. These two teams would be placed into separate conferences (Chicago in the East, New Orleans in the West). These teams proceeded to take two opposite paths to building their franchises. New Orleans would be starting with two GM players smack dab in the middle of their primes: Joe Kurczewski and Roman Augustus (Co-GM TheDangaZone). In S45, these two players lead their teams to the Challenge Cup finals, Joe K on Edmonton, and Roman on the Platoon. These players also finished atop the leaderboards in scoring for that season as well. Because of this, the Specters went heavy on a “win now” strategy in the expansion draft (and in free agency) and built a strong team right out of the gate. Chicago chose to draft younger players with high upside, choosing to build a core that would grow together. Now we sit here, 30 seasons later, and what was the right call?

Granted, 30 seasons is a long time, and a lot of players come and go, except for me, apparently. Here are the total records for the franchises:

New Orleans - 1804 GP - 873-804-127
Chicago - 1804 GP - 1122-584-98

That’s QUITE the disparity.

Overall, New Orleans has made three Challenge Cup finals (46, 54, 55), winning one. Chicago has also made three Challenge Cup finals (57, 60, 64), winning two.

So who had the better draft plan? It doesn’t matter. Both teams have had success in their history, both teams being considered one of the best teams in the league for a long time. If you split up the history a bit, you get to see that in the STHS era, New Orleans’ plan worked.

New Orleans (S46-S52, STHS) - 206-115-29
Chicago (S46-S52), STHS) - 174-153-23

Chicago wasn’t worse by a lot, but with less teams they’d routinely miss the playoffs. New Orleans made the Cup Finals in year one, and was one of the top teams for quite some time.

In the first three season of the FHM era, the gap started to close:

New Orleans (S53-S55) - 93-44-13
Chicago (S53-S55) - 89-54-7

The only difference here was the Specters made the Cup Finals twice in these three years, winning once. But it didn’t matter, Chicago was about to pop off. Big time.

New Orleans (S56-S75) - 574-645-85
Chicago (S56-S75) - 859-377-68

In the ensuing 20 seasons, Chicago would go on to win 285 more games than the Specters. Why is this? Well, it goes back to how the teams drafted a bit. With Chicago still getting younger players and hitting on more and more of them, New Orleans would start getting older. And older. They would trade many first rounders to stay afloat, before being forced to do a full on rebuild in S56. They’d trade many good players for picks, and started to build up the new core, similar to how Chicago started from the beginning. From S56-S62, New Orleans would average 18.9 wins, whereas Chicago would average 46.0 wins. In that span of time alone, they would win 189 more games than New Orleans. Chicago was also very, very good at FHM when the SHL was in it’s FHM infancy, which also really helped them (not a slight, just saying Chicago figured it out faster than a lot of teams, good on them) and with the seasons going from 50 games a season to 66, there were simply more games to win, and the STHS randomness was replaced with the FHM “just have more TPE and you should win more often than not” type of sims, which resulted in more victories for the better teams. As we now enter the S76 season, we see a New Orleans team making moves to compete this season, while Chicago appears to be heading into a rebuilding era of their own, so it’ll be interesting to see where the numbers lie when they hit 40 seasons.

However, in conclusion, there is no definitive way to say which was better to build. New Orleans had a lot of success when the teams first started, but Chicago definitely made their way to the top as well. Both teams have made the same amount of Challenge Cup finals (3), although Chicago does hold the edge in Cups at 2-1. This isn’t really supposed to be a Chicago vs New Orleans thing as much as I just found it interesting to compare the histories of two teams that purposely started on two different paths. At the end of the day, when you compare the variables, it seems like there’s no definitive answer. And as we come up on a era of expansion once again, albeit in the J, that’s a good thing. (804)

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