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Report: Canucks moving AHL affiliate to Utica

Jun 6, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT

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The good people of Utica, New York, haven’t had an American Hockey League team to support since they were cheering on the Devils, starring a young Jim Dowd, in 1993.

But it appears the AHL will be returning to the Utica Memorial Auditorium next season in the form of the Vancouver Canucks’ minor-league affiliate.

Per News 1130 Sports in Vancouver, the league will vote in favor of the move on June 13.

The Canucks have been looking for somewhere to put their AHL affiliate since purchasing the Peoria Rivermen franchise from the Blues.

“Utica definitely has hockey in its blood,” the city’s mayor Robert Palmieri told the Vancouver Sun recently. “Utica is a hockey town and it’s been that way for years and years and years. I think, quite frankly, bringing in another AHL team makes a tremendous amount of sense. I think Vancouver and Utica would be just a perfect marriage for great hockey in this area.

“I’m very optimistic. We are a city on the rise and I think there is a lot of interest in hockey. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working diligently for multiple months and I’m very encouraged. I think it would be outstanding for civic pride for Utica to have another AHL team.”

Utica had previously attempted to attract the Abbotsford Heat, Calgary’s AHL team.

At the same time, the Canucks had explored placing the Rivermen in Abbotsford, a suburb of Vancouver. However, no deal was ultimately struck.

While Vancouver and Utica are across the continent from each other, the Canucks’ prospects stand to enjoy a relatively easy AHL travel schedule in upstate New York compared to the one the Heat face.

  1. ibieiniid - Jun 6, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    please name them the devils again. then the AHL will have two Admirals and two Devils.

    • ibieiniid - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      awwww you guys dont like that idea? lol it was just a joke

  2. esracerx46 - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Thought they were going to Abbotsford…

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Calgary never moved their team so they still have the Abbotsford market, I kind of hope the Flames wait until after the Canucks have made it official and done everything they need to do and at that point decide to leave Abbotsford, just as a little eff you to the Canucks.

      • littlepieceofplastic - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        I don’t think it bothers the Canucks too much. It is more of an eff you to the City of Abbotsford and its taxpayers, who are on the hook for any losses the baby flames have. Let’s face it, the baby flames are a poor draw in a hockey mad market. The only games the baby flames sell out are the ones against the Canucks and Maple Leafs farm teams, and then the Heat are treated like the visiting team in their home building.

        I can’t see the baby flames moving until the contract runs out. They have a sweet deal. No matter how badly they mess up, how bad the players are, how poor the kwalitie of the team, they can’t lose money. Why move?

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:36 PM

        The eff you was cause the Canucks really wanted to move the baby Whales there. But I really had no idea the Flames had such a one sided agreement, that’s crazy. In an ideal world I think the Canucks would have their team in Abbotsford and the Flames would have there’s in Saskatoon….I’m guessing the Blades are in trouble with their struggles to sell Memorial Cup tickets.

  3. thejekyl - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Did the Canucks even visit the place? What a pothole!

    • redridershoottheireyeout - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      @thejekyl, you’ve obviously never been there, or you are from the cesspool NYC or stuckup Lawngg Island!

      • thejekyl - Jun 6, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Beg to differ, early 90′s for about 2 yrs. Italian food and The Applebee’s near the thruway where, and likely still are, the only thing the place is good for. 20+% unemployment, military long gone (Rome), heck, even the union has been downsized. No way an AHL team can survive on 2,000-3,000 fans per game (and I’m probably a little on the high side with those numbers).

    • rpmoranjr - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      So your opinion is based living in the Utica area for “about 2 years” some 20 years ago. Gee glad you have all the facts that you need. For the rest, Utica and CNY is rich in hockey history and has great fans. Did you know that Utica College Division III men’s hockey team led the nation in home attendance for the seventh consecutive season this past year? Utica has also hosted the NYS public high school hockey state tournament for over ten straight years. Of course we were really disappointed when “thejekyl” moved away some 20 years ago, but we survived. I’m sure he is the joy of his new community. For the rest, if you are in the area, stop by we have great restaurants, our own brewery and the host the 2nd largest 15k race in the country. We have come long way in 20 years. 

      • scotthawthorne - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:29 AM

        Utica is an absolutely disgusting city. I moved there last August and it was the worst decision of my life. There are 3 kinds of people who live in Utica, white trash, gang members and Bosnian’s. Three groups of people who will want nothing to do with hockey. DO NOT stop by that hell hole of a city. Only go there if you plan on getting mugged in that hell hole of a city.

  4. redridershoottheireyeout - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    I feel for the players who will have to travel on a bus in some of the worst snow belts in the State of New York in the Winter! I’ve driven all those lousy two lane roads at that time of year and it was white knuckles the whole way, even on the highways. There ya go, name them Knucklers for the white knuckles these guys will get fistailing around the curves on their ride to Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, Elmira, Erie and issue them all boots for pushing said bus out of the drifts it’s gonna get stuck in. Other names: Winers in ref. to the local wineries and the current roster of the parent team, Oilers/Drillers in ref. to the fracking controversy that the dope Palmieri supports and to piss off the artsy tree hugger types on the hil.
    I love this part of NY but thus was not a well thought out decision for so many reasons!

    • ibieiniid - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      playing on your typo, the Utica FISTailers (applicable until fighting is banned)

    • madpooch - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      All you folks have good points. The Utica economy doesn’t have the industry it once did. But then again, when was Utica ever confused with New York city or the sunbelt as a job hot spot? I think Utica will have enough hockey fans clamoring fro an AHL team, after getting a taste of quality hockey some 20 years ago.
      Hopefully Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton fans will come over to watch our guys when their respective teams visit Utica. 40 years ago Syracuse-Utica was quite the rivalry.
      Remember too, Utica supports Five Guys Burgers and Hampton Inn.Neither of these two establishments is low class and cheap.

    • madpooch - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      These guys are used to it.The WHL has terribly long bus trips.Hopefully Utica will be placed in a mostly New York State division so they don’t have long bus trips. Besides, the AHL is a northeast – strong league.Abbotsford? Kind of secluded,don’t you think?

  5. Habib Marwan - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    How can a dying, economically depressed state like NY support another AHL franchise?, this makes zero sense , there is not one reason this should happen .

  6. nhlfan2013 - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Here’s a profile of Utica. Judge for yourself what kind of place this is.
    http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/fiscalprofiles/utica.pdf

  7. banger60 - Jun 6, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Holy sh*t, quit crying little girls.

  8. madpooch - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    All you folks have good points. The Utica economy doesn’t have the industry it once did. But then again, when was Utica ever confused with New York city or the sunbelt as a job hot spot? I think Utica will have enough hockey fans clamoring fro an AHL team, after getting a taste of quality hockey some 20 years ago.
    Hopefully Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton fans will come over to watch our guys when their respective teams visit Utica. 40 years ago Syracuse-Utica was quite the rivalry.
    Remember too, Utica supports Five Guys Burgers and Hampton Inn.Neither of these two establishments is low class and cheap.

    • nhlfan2013 - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:35 AM

      the population in utica has changed since the devils were there. much poorer and more crime than back then. devils left because they were bleeding money. it’ll be worse for vancouver. time will tell.

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