When the AHL kicks off its 2015-16 season, a lot of prospects will be playing a lot closer to where they really want to be.
Geographically speaking, at least.
In fact, there will be two teams, the Manitoba Moose and San Jose Barracuda, that will move into the exact same rinks that their NHL parents call home. The reborn Moose will play at MTS Centre, same as the Jets, and the Barracuda will play at SAP Center, home of the Sharks.
“It’s obviously going to give you that much more motivation,” said Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk, per the Canadian Press. “You know there’s going to be more people watching your practices.”
The Sharks moved their AHL affiliate from Worcester, Massachusetts. Next season, the league will feature a new Pacific Division, made up of five California teams, all affiliated with Western-based NHL clubs.
While some NHL teams still have their affiliates in dramatically different locales — like the Vancouver Canucks (Utica, New York), Arizona Coyotes (Springfield, Massachusetts), Colorado Avalanche (San Antonio, Texas), Florida Panthers (Portland, Maine), and Montreal Canadiens (St. John’s, Newfoundland) — the trend is clear.
“This is not really a business move as much as it is a hockey move for our organization,” said Jets chairman Mark Chipman. “That’s where the real benefits will be gained for us as an organization, is having those players here.”