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Report: AHL could have new division in western U.S.

Apr 18, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT


From Los Angeles Kings blog Mayor’s Manor, it sounds like the American Hockey League’s landscape could be making a fairly dramatic shift:

Through multiple league sources connected to the teams involved, we’ve confirmed that five to six NHL teams are prepared to move their top minor league prospects to a new AHL division based in Western U.S. markets.

The reason for this is actually quite simple; it just isn’t practical – or at least not ideal- to have the heart of an NHL franchise operating in one time zone, while their top development team is several time zones away.

At one point, as many as eight teams were involved in the discussions, including Anaheim, Los Angeles, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose, and Vancouver.

Click on the link for all the details. According to the report, the “Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks are on board” and “the new division will begin play in October 2015.”

Earlier this week, the Flames ended their affiliation with the AHL’s most western-based team, the Abbostford Heat.

Abbotsford is about an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, and there remains speculation the Canucks could one day relocate their farm team there from Utica, where it relocated last year.

  1. coolkidchris - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Makes sense. I always wondered why the sharks affiliate is 3000 miles from San Jose.

  2. 49faithful - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    I would love the Utah Grizzles to be in the new league and be affiliated with San Jose.

  3. wtfkwp - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    Kinda like Manchester as it is, but I do see the practicality of this. The Kings used to have a minor league team in Phoenix (Roadrunners.)

    • thailer35 - Apr 18, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Loved going to Roadrunner games as a kid in the old Collesium. Still have a few pucks. Want to find a jersey on ebay too.

  4. t9tookey - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I makes sense from the NHL’s side of things, however, it makes no sense from the AHL side of things. As it is the IHL teams that merged with the AHL don’t play too many other teams in the AHL. The only time I remember seeing one of the western teams in Hershey is when the Bears faced the Texas Stars in the Calder Cup Finals.

    The only way this is cost effective for the AHL is the entire Western Conference was nothing but West coast & Mid-Western teams. Like it or not, the AHL is an East Coast, bus league. The shift would have to be big enough teams so teams like Utica and Charlotte could move to the Eastern Conference. A Western Conference with Mid-Western teams close together in one division and then West Coast teams close together in a division might help keep those costs down. But there’d probably still be higher costs with Mid-Western and West Coast teams still having to fly to face each other.

    Pretty much we’re going to end up with two separate leagues under one league. Maybe getting rid of the IHL wasn’t really the best idea.

  5. jdhein22 - Apr 18, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    Sacramento would love a team.

  6. Benjamin P. Glaser - Apr 18, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    The NHL needs to do what MLB does. Have two separate leagues for the two conferences. An “IHL” (i.e. – Pacific Coast League) for the West and an “AHL” (i.e. – International League) for the East.

  7. r8rbhawk - Apr 18, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Agreed, let’s bring back the IHL, it was a great league, it was good for developing talent and had a good smattering of former NHLers to provide a veteran presence.

  8. skr213 - Apr 18, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Given that the Sharks ECHL affiliate in San Francisco (Cow Palace) just failed so badly that they shut down mid-season, I will be interested to see if the new Sharks AHL location will be another try in SF. If they can build the new Warriors arena in SF, then I think that could work, but if they try again at the Cow Palace, I see failure in the future.

  9. icejus10 - Apr 19, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    The IHL couldn’t sustain itself, travel and player costs were too much – the teams that didn’t go under, merged into the American Hockey League. Since 2001 a lot of AHL teams in the western half of North America have come and gone… the Utah Grizzles, Houston Aeros, Iowa Stars, Omaha Knights, Manitoba Heat, Quad City Flames, Iowa Chops, and now Abbotsford Heat. While teams still exist in Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Wisconsin – the extensive travel between cities by the fringe teams have been franchise problems. Travelling constantly slows down development and training – welcoming teams in for back-to-back games negatively affects attendance, which along with the heavy travel causes financial losses for the franchises.

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