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Bringing The Minor League Teams Closer To Home

from Darren Dreger of TSN,

Sources tell TSN several NHL western conference teams are involved in ongoing discussions to improve the geographic challenges some teams face in trying to develop their players from afar.

Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary attended a private meeting with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly earlier this month, where the group conceptually talked about the introduction of a western wing to the American Hockey League to ease the burden of travel on prospect players, as well as provide NHL teams with a more hands on approach in day to day development.

Most in that group are content with their existing AHL partnerships; however, there are some who who like to see change and are considering a more extreme approach if necessary.

The possibility of creating an entirely new league primarily based to serve some of the NHL’s pacific and northwest division teams has also been suggested by some involved.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, Minor League, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Primis's avatar

It’s been a very poorly-kept secret that many of them Pacific timezone-based ECHL teams are on the AHL’s target list.  Markets like Ontario (Cali), Bakersfield, etc… all draw better than many AHL markets and would be closer options for western NHL teams.

Here’s the big problem though:  there just aren’t enough viable western markets to give one to every western NHL org.  There are several really good markets in AA hockey right now that would make great AHL markets, but several are east of the Mississippi still such as Fort Wayne. (ignoring the politics of their current ownership there).  I know the AHL “kicks the tires” there every offseason, but I think they are reluctant to include Fort Wayne’s current ownership given thier history and reputation as rebels and mavericks.

The Jets also really screwed things up when they kicked out the Moose and sent them all the way over into Atlantic Time as Newfies.  That was a blow to western AHL hockey as well, and that’s hardly the AHL’s fault but is the fault of the NHL.

Fact is, the AHL should be happy with a stable 30-for-30 model, and there needs to be more growth in the western markets before it’s worth the risk of compromising that model to try and get western teams closer affiliates.  I’d say Ontario is likely a home run, Bako and Vegas less so but still could happen I guess, and markets like Idaho, Alaska, and Utah really aren’t viable AHL markets and belong in AA still (I believe Utah is even struggling just int he ECHL still).

Whining abut it isn’t going to fix it though, and it would help things if certain NHL orgs treated their affiliates better, instead of like something easily-disposable.

Posted by Primis on 10/28/11 at 01:10 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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