The announcement came after a unanimous vote from the league’s Board of Governors to create a Pacific Division for next season. The Board approved the following:
- The Anaheim Ducks will purchase the Norfolk Admirals AHL franchise and will relocate it to San Diego.
- The AHL franchise owned by the Calgary Flames will relocate from Glens Falls, N.Y., to Stockton, Cal.
- The AHL franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers will relocate from Oklahoma City, Okla., to Bakersfield.
- The AHL franchise owned by the Los Angeles Kings will relocate from Manchester, N.H., to Ontario, Cal.
- The AHL franchise owned by the San Jose Sharks will relocate from Worcester, Mass., to San Jose.
Full division alignments and schedule formats for the 2015-16 season will be determined by the Board of Governors at a later date.
“Relocating five teams is a complex process, and we are very excited to have brought this initiative to a successful outcome,” Andrews said. “The Western-based NHL clubs have been in dialogue with our league for almost three years, and today’s announcement launches a new era for the American Hockey League and for professional hockey in California.”
“This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come,” said Luc Robitaille, President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings. “I want to commend each of the participating clubs, along with Dave Andrews, Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, for their commitment, patience and willingness to work through a very challenging but worthwhile process in order to get to this day.”
“The immense growth of the game of hockey in the state of California shows that hockey fans here love the game and they support it,” said San Jose Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “Having our top prospects playing on the same coast as our National Hockey League team will greatly enhance our ability to monitor and enhance their development. The creation of this Pacific Division of the American Hockey League has been a long time in the making and is the result of an immense amount of hard work by the AHL, the NHL and the five Pacific Division teams. We are extremely excited to have this division become a reality and we can’t wait for October 2015.”
This is the start of shifts: it’s been rumored that ECHL franchise moves will fill the void left in Norfolk and Manchester. ECHL teams had been playing in Bakersfield, Ontario and Stockton.