In news we reported several weeks ago, the Calgary Flames announced their AHL affiliate is moving from the Quad Cities to Abbotsford, B.C. The big question now: What other AHL teams will follow?In news we reported way last January, the Calgary Flames announced their AHL affiliate is moving from the Quad Cities to Abbotsford, B.C. The big question now: What other AHL teams will follow?
Here’s the deal. The AHL is primarily an East Coast/Upper Midwest league; fully 27 of the league’s 29 teams fall between Winnipeg and Portland, Maine; only San Antonio and Houston are the outliers. Adding Abbotsford to the mix means travel will need to be reassessed in the league; the Calgary Flames are already promising a travel subsidy, and the team will need to embark on some hellacious road trips.
But those are short-term solutuons.
The real solution is to locate a cluster of teams in the Pacific Northwest. There’s already talk about a team in Victoria as a travel partner for the new Abbotsford team. And AHL officials would have to be completely nuts not to be looking at Seattle as a future home as well. With Edmonton holding an AHL franchise in its hip pocket, you can bet owner Daryl Katz — who’s becoming a sports-franchise player after investing in pro baseball — isn’t looking at other West Coast arenas and markets.
So look for plenty of debate over the future of the AHL in coming weeks. We’ve already heard from a few owners that they expect Abbotsford to be approved, but by the slimmest of margins in a vote that could go either way. Let the debate begin.