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The New Pacific Division In The AHL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. ... American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has formally and unanimously approved the steps necessary to create a Pacific Division within the AHL beginning with the 2015-16 season. 

The Board has approved the following: 

• The Anaheim Ducks will purchase the Norfolk Admirals AHL franchise and will relocate it from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego, Calif. 

• The AHL franchise owned by the Calgary Flames will relocate from Glens Falls, N.Y., to Stockton, Calif. 

• The AHL franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers will relocate from Oklahoma City, Okla., to Bakersfield, Calif. 

• The AHL franchise owned by the Los Angeles Kings will relocate from Manchester, N.H., to Ontario, Calif. 

• The AHL franchise owned by the San Jose Sharks will relocate from Worcester, Mass., to San Jose, Calif. 

Full division alignments and schedule formats for the 2015-16 season will be determined by the Board of Governors at a later date. 

“Relocating five teams is a complex process, and we are very excited to have brought this initiative to a successful outcome,” said Andrews. “The Western-based NHL clubs have been in dialogue with our league for almost three years, and today’s announcement launches a new era for the American Hockey League and for professional hockey in California.” 

“This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come,” said Luc Robitaille, President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings. “I want to commend each of the participating clubs, along with Dave Andrews, Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, for their commitment, patience and willingness to work through a very challenging but worthwhile process in order to get to this day.” 

“The immense growth of the game of hockey in the state of California shows that hockey fans here love the game and they support it,” said San Jose Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “Having our top prospects playing on the same coast as our National Hockey League team will greatly enhance our ability to monitor and enhance their development. The creation of this Pacific Division of the American Hockey League has been a long time in the making and is the result of an immense amount of hard work by the AHL, the NHL and the five Pacific Division teams. We are extremely excited to have this division become a reality and we can’t wait for October 2015.” 

Formed in 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for players in all 30 National Hockey League organizations, as well as coaches, officials, executives, trainers and broadcasters throughout the NHL. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are graduates of the American Hockey League, and through the years the AHL has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

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SYF's avatar

Heh.  If Vegas gets their NHL team, the Wranglers will probably move up to the AHL from the ECHL to become the farm team for the NHL Vegas team.

Wherever the Wranglers will call home for the 2015-2016 season, trust that that ride from the AHL to the NHL is less than ten miles.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 01/29/15 at 04:26 PM ET

Primis's avatar

ECHL just officially announced that Adirondack, Norfolk, and Manchester are joining the ECHL to replace the 3 Cali markets the ECHL just lost to the AHL (Stockton, Bakersfield, and Ontario).  It would appear Adirondack will remain affiliated with the Calgary Flames, just as an ECHL affiliate instead of AHL I believe these 3 means the ECHL (barring no more weird franchise moves) will stay at least the current number of 28 teams next season.

Still no word yet on Oklahoma City or Worcester or their futures.

This is all important, because the “AA” level is inching towards one league, 30 teams, with one NHL affiliate per team.  And that will give the NHL teams more control over their player development down there.

Ontario should be a tremendous AHL market.  Drawing 7,200+/game right now in the ECHL would put them near the top of the AHL too.  Bako and Stockton draw 4000+/game, which would put them in the middle-ish of the AHL pack, though I have concerns with both fo those markets as they have not been truly solid the past few years.

Worcester, Adirondack, and OKC all have drawn between 3300 and 3500/game this season in the AHL, which would translate better at the ECHL level honestly where if you’re drawing over 3,000/game you’re doing fine.  Too bad only Adirondack of those has been confirmed moving so far.

If the Frankes ever will get out of Fort Wayne, the Komets will undoubtedly jump ship to the AHL right away as well.  But as long as the Frankes control the team, Fort Wayne won’t go to “AAA” where they’d lose some of their control of the team.

Wherever the Wranglers will call home for the 2015-2016 season, trust that that ride from the AHL to the NHL is less than ten miles.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard’s Bikinis on 01/29/15 at 04:26 PM ET

I have seen nothing to indicate the Wranglers ever actually found a home beyond some empty promises about a venue downtown.  Can’t imagine they play in 15-16, they’ll remain dark unless a late play changes their situation.

Posted by Primis on 01/30/15 at 10:46 AM ET

Primis's avatar

And just as I post the above, ECHL Commissioner McKenna confirms that he is not expecting any other moves for the 2015-16 season.

That’s pretty bad news for fans in Oklahoma City and Worcester, which just lost their AHL teams and now have missed on the ECHL for at least a year apparently.  Neither market really fits the SPHL blueprint, if the SPHL even had any interest in the first place.  OKC can’t even go back and join the CHL, because the ECHL absorbed its teams into their Central Division.

Posted by Primis on 01/30/15 at 10:52 AM ET

Primis's avatar

SYF, the Wranglers just officially announced their withdrawl from ECHL membership, due to not finding a venue to play in.


Hockey stays dark in Vegas, and it sounds like it probably stays dark until or unless NHL comes to town.

Posted by Primis on 01/30/15 at 01:27 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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