Several American Hockey League franchises have been rumored to be moving to the West Coast. The league is having a press conference Thursday at San Jose’s SAP Center with brass from the Sharks, the Flames, the Ducks, the Kings, the Oilers and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly present.
What could this possibly be about?
Unless it's the latest Stonecutters inductions I’m sure we’ll know at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Relocation for next season. Duh...
Though we don’t know the exact locations of the new teams, this likely means the end of Calgary’s affiliation with Adirondack, San Jose’s with Worcester, Anaheim’s with Norfolk, Los Angeles’ with Manchester and Edmonton’s with Oklahoma City.
Cities rumored as part of AHL relocation in the past included Stockton, San Jose, Bakersfield, Ontario, Long Beach and San Diego amongst others. All spots are in California.
While this stinks for the teams in the east that are losing affiliations, it simply makes sense for the more westerly squads. Just think, if a Ducks player gets hurt, a call-up must fly from Norfolk to Anaheim.
According to Yahoo Maps, that’s 2,705.23 miles. And Norfolk doesn’t have a major international airport. Per Orbitz, if you needed a player to get from Norfolk to the Los Angeles/Anaheim area tomorrow, there are 0 direct flights.
It’s a competitive disadvantage for those teams, and creates greater cost to fly players across the country.
It’s an advantage the Anaheim Ducks (Norfolk is their affiliate), Arizona Coyotes (Portland, Maine), Colorado Avalanche (Erie, Pa.), Los Angeles Kings (Manchester, N.H.), San Jose Sharks (Worcester, Mass.) and even the Calgary Flames (Glens Falls, NY), Edmonton Oilers (Oklahoma City) and Vancouver Canucks (Utica, N.Y.) don’t have.
That’s why as early as next season, there could be a titanic transformation in the AHL. The NHL’s chief development league is well on its way toward several relocations of eastern markets to western markets that’ll include some and eventually maybe all of the above teams.
That’s just the difficulties the western franchises face, rather than say the Buffalo Sabres, whose AHL affiliate is in nearby Rochester.
Also, it shows hockey finally embracing California as a growing hotbed for the game. Good, because it is. And the weather is nice and … we could go on and on for more advantages by having teams out there. Thank you Wayne Gretzky!
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