The pieces are falling into a place for a five-team all-California AHL division, as Manchester, Glens Falls and Worcester will reportedly make the move west under NHL supervision.
We’ve reported on the moves in recent weeks, and yesterday the American Hockey League Board of Governors met to discuss the realignment. Nothing official has been announced (and won’t be for now, according several involved in the discussions), though the league and team officials have been laying the groundwork for the realignment. For instance, the staff of the Worcester Sharks as well as DCU Center General Manager Sandy Dunn and City Manager Edward Augustus have been notified the team will be playing next year in San Jose’s SAP Center, at least temporarily, under NHL Sharks management. Presumably an ECHL team will be recruited to play at DCU Center, perhaps with a Boston Bruins affiliation, according to the Worcester Telegram.
This comes on the heels of the news that the Manchester Monarchs are on the road to Ontario, Cal., probably switching places with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign. The news isn’t a surprise to Manchester officials: the potential switch has been discussed for several months.
So, to review:
- Manchester to Ontario, Cal., as a Los Angeles Kings farm team.
- Oklahoma City to Bakersfield as an Edmonton Oilers farm team.
- Worcester to San Jose (temporarily) as a Sharks farm team.
- Norfolk to San Diego as an Anaheim Ducks farm team.
- Glens Falls (Adirondack) to Stockton as a Calgary Flames farm team.
The Adirondack Flames could end up being one of the most traveled teams in pro hockey when the final moves are announced. Last season the team played in Abbotsford, B.C., and then moved in the offseason to Glens Falls. The sequence is breathtaking: British Columbia -> upstate New York -> Stockton.
And this may just be the start of AHL franchise shifts westward. It’s no secret the Winnipeg Jets have sought to bring the St. John’s IceCaps to Thunder Bay (more marketing opportunities, lower costs), and the Arizona Coyotes reportedly have looked at bringing the Portland Pirates westward as well.