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Western NHL seeking AHL West: report

AHLReps from eight Western NHL teams have lobbied NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly about working with the AHL on a western division or establishing a new league, according to TSN.

The eight teams — the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks — reportedly wants the AHL to work toward a western division, both to lower travel costs for parent teams and provide easier access for scouts who want to see players in action. If that’s not possible, a new high-level league could be evaluated.

The AHL is unbalanced in terms of geographic layout, with teams predominently east of the Mississippi River. Only one team, the Abbortsford Heat, is located in the western part of the continent, and that’s because parent Calgary is willing to underwrite travel costs.

There are plenty of hurdles to forming an AHL West, the least of which is the lack of open markets. There is no way to go into a Portland or Boise without displacing a WHL or ECHL team. And given the relative strength of the AHL these days — David Andrews really has done a fantastic job in establishing a league that’s solid from top to bottom — there is not a set of franchise ripe for movement. And there’s basically a very good relationship between the NHL and AHL these days, so launching a new minor league would be a setback for the AHL.


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