It’s official: Wild move AHL affiliate to Iowa, Canucks purchase Peoria


Following today’s Board of Governors meeting, the American Hockey League officially announced Minnesota’s affiliate, the Houston Aeros, would be moving to Iowa and that Peoria — formerly St. Louis’ affiliate — had been purchased by Vancouver.

As PHT mentioned earlier, the Wild will move the team to Des Moines (where they’ll be known as the Iowa Wild), ending a 12-year relationship with Houston.

It’s believed an issue with the Toyota Center — where the Aeros currently reside — played a role in the decision, as arena operators figured they could make more money “hosting concerts and other events” rather than AHL games, and planned on raising the Wild’s rent.

The move to Des Moines will mark the return of American League hockey to Iowa for the first time since 2009, when the Chops served as Anaheim’s minor-league affiliate.

News of Vancouver’s purchase of Peoria broke in early April, with the AHL making the sale official on Thursday.

“The purchase of the Peoria Rivermen franchise allows Canucks Sports & Entertainment to assume full control of their minor league development program,” the Canucks said in a press release. “No determination has been made relative to the operation of the franchise for the 2013.14 season.”

It’s been speculated the Canucks could move the Rivermen to Abbotsford, a Vancouver suburb currently home to Calgary’s AHL affiliate.

Abbotsford has struggled to attract fans to watch the Flames’ farm team in a pro-Canucks market, with one notable exception: when Vancouver’s AHL team from Chicago is in town.


Ex-AHL Peoria owner blasts Blues over selling club, calls move ‘disgusting’

Report: Flames moving AHL team from Abbotsford to Utica

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

1 Comment

Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

1 Comment

When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado