There has been rampant rumors and speculation about the American Hockey League expanding or relocating west in order to accommodate western conference-based NHL clubs.
The latest comes from Howlings.net, where Dave Cantlon suggests the formation of a Pacific Division in the AHL could begin as early as next fall.
In his piece, Cantlon says with the Denver Cutthroats and Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League suspending operations for the 2014-15 season, plans for the two clubs to join the AHL next season are in the works.
Cantlon’s sources say the both the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes have purchased AHL franchises – are you seeing a pattern here?
The franchise known as the Cutthroats would be the Avalanche AHL affiliate while the Sundogs would be affiliated with the Coyotes.
This is in addition to, Los Angeles moving its’ AHL affiliation the Manchester Monarchs to Ontario, Calif., the San Jose Sharks relocating its’ affiliate from Worcester to Fresno, Calif. and Winnipeg, which owns the St. John’s IceCaps, relocating to Thunder Bay, Ont.
According to the report, Anaheim would also purchase an AHL team and relocate it to San Diego, Calif.
Cantlon suggests in two years, Vancouver would relocate its team from Utica, NY to Abbotsford, Edmonton will move from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield, Calif. and Calgary would move its team, which begins play in Glens Falls, NY this season.
This process is way over due. Several NHL teams in the Western Conference have their affiliates displaced somewhere in the east making it difficult to recall players on short notice. Prime examples of this are both the Canucks and Flames, who have teams in New York.
With AHL teams closer to their NHL clubs it should also help with attendance in the AHL as fans in the region would have some allegiance to the parent club.
This all makes way too much sense for most parties involved (sorry to those cities losing AHL clubs). It’s about time it happened.
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