Coming from NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk via WAVY in Hampton Roads, Virginia– the Norfolk Admirals will be sold to the Anaheim Ducks and then move out west. This comes on reports of the Calgary Flames looking to buy the Stockton Thunder to get themselves their own ECHL affiliate and maybe move them west, as well as the Edmonton Oilers’ issues that happened a month ago that could move their AHL team to Bakersfield– the AHL West is going to be a thing.
This also doesn’t take into account that the San Jose Sharks are probably looking for a western location since their lease with the DCU Center in Worcester is up, as well as the Arizona Coyotes looking at maybe pulling their team out of Portland, Maine to bring them to quite possibly Prescott Valley, Arizona– former home of the Sundogs and a place that is looking to get hockey for next season. Let’s not forget that the Los Angeles Kings will probably take the Monarchs out of Manchester, New Hampshire and move to the Ontario– where LA owns the Reign.
All-Star Weekend in Utica is supposed to yield an announcement from AHL President Dave Andrews and the more and more this goes on, it seems that the announcement will be about this particular issue.
Yet, when you look at what these teams will leave behind in some decent markets– what will happen to those hockey starved masses that will be losing out to AHL West?? Norfolk off the jump could very well get back into the ECHL fold or maybe the SPHL fold if all else fails. With Worcester and Portland leaving, you could almost wonder if the Federal Hockey League will jump into those markets and start to make a name for themselves– if other NHL teams don’t get into those markets for AHL purposes.
Plus, what’s the impact on the other teams out there?? The Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush, Colorado Eagles, and Utah Grizzlies could be left out in the cold in the Pacific Division with all the teams migrating from the west to the AHL. Not only that, the Canucks and Avalanche also could be looking in the future for teams closer to their bases of operations. The Canucks still have a few years left on their contract with the Utica Comets; so that should be safe.
If it were only as easy as swapping the ECHL and AHL teams (which it could be) then this whole thing could very well be skirted. However, when you have to start things from scratch for a new league– it could be a little more easier said than done.