AHL Board of Governors approves realignment, new Pacific Division


The American Hockey League announced that its Board of Governors has approved the new division alignment for the 2015-16 campaign. Like the NHL did with the start of the 2013-14 campaign, the AHL is switching from a six division to four division format. In the AHL’s case, it’s also introducing a Pacific Division to reflect the number of teams that are moving west.

Here is what the divisions will look like next season, per the league’s release:

Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)
Portland Pirates (FLA)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Falcons (ARI)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

North Division
Albany Devils (NJ)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
St. John’s IceCaps (MTL)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)

Central Division
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ)
Manitoba Moose (WPG)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (EDM)
Ontario Reign (LA)
San Antonio Rampage (COL)
San Diego Gulls (ANA)
San Jose Barracuda (SJ)
Stockton Heat (CGY)
Texas Stars (DAL)

Several teams have changed their affiliation andor will move over the summer, which you can read about via the links below:

Jackets, Coyotes, and Avs announce new AHL affiliate agreements

Busy day for deals as AHL, OHL clubs change locations

Fear the Gulls: Ducks unveil AHL team in San Diego

Report: Sharks to move AHL affiliate from Worcester to San Jose, will play at SAP Center

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Realignment leaves Leafs coach Carlyle scratching his head

Randy Carlyle

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is no big fan of realignment.

Or, at the very least, he’s confused by it.

“It makes it more difficult for us to qualify for the playoffs,” Carlyle said today, per the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle. “It makes you scratch your head – why is that?”

Starting this season, the Leafs will be in the Atlantic Division with seven other teams — the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be one other eight-team division (the Metropolitan Division) in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Western Conference will be comprised of two seven-team divisions, the Central and the Pacific.

Eight teams from each conference will make the playoffs.

So Carlyle does have a point — if the Leafs are to qualify for the postseason, they’ll have to beat out more teams than their Western Conference counterparts.

If it were up to Carlyle, he’d probably have kept Detroit in the West; however, Wings ownership had for years been pushing the league for a move to the East (for good reason).

Columbus is the other team that moved from the West to the East as part of realignment, with Winnipeg going the opposite way.

If it makes Carlyle feel any better, we hear the Pacific Division might have a new team soon.


Jackets have plenty to be happy about after realignment

Blue Jackets logo

The Columbus Blue Jackets are upbeat going into the 2013-14 campaign and not all of that is due to their late surge last season or even any of the roster moves they’ve made.

When the Blue Jackets joined the NHL in 2000-01, they were stuck in the Western Conference. Thanks to the NHL’s realignment, the Blue Jackets are going to spend far more time playing opponents closer to home as a member of the newly formed Metropolitan Division.

Having less travel time should be a big plus for the team, but it will also be beneficial to their fanbase and in turn, their bottom line.

“The big plus is just more accessibility for the fans, watching us play,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told The Dispatch in March. “It’s difficult when you go out West so often and we’re on Pacific time and they’re here on Eastern time and the game comes on at either 10 or 10:30.”

Beyond the more convenient start times for road games, Blue Jackets fans will also have plenty of reasons to show up for the contests at Nationwide Arena. Rick Nash will frequently come back to town with the New York Rangers and their other division rivals include Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as John Tavares and the New York Islanders.

Of course, with that level of competition, making the playoffs will be a sizable task, but then again, their old Central Division wasn’t exactly easy. In fact, the Blue Jackets have losing franchise records against all their former division rivals and a combined 100-148-7-39 record against them. By comparison they are 36-36-7-11 historically against the Metropolitan members, which isn’t exactly breathtaking, but does help highlight that they aren’t going from an easy situation into a brutal one.

It’s hard not to see realignment as a big win for the Blue Jackets as a franchise or, as Blue Jackets president Mike Priest put it, “it’s really hard to exaggerate how much it means to us.”


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