In the worst kept secret in the world, it seems that the official unveiling of the AHL West division will be rolled out tomorrow in San Jose, California at the SAP Center at 12:30 PM PT. This is from a release to the media from the AHL:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2015
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE TO MAKE MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League will be making a major announcement related to the 2015-16 season on Thursday, January 29, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
David Andrews, President and Chief Executive Officer – American Hockey League
Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner – National Hockey League
Michael Schulman, Chief Executive Officer – Anaheim Ducks
Bob Murray, Executive Vice President and General Manager – Anaheim Ducks
Brad Treliving, General Manager – Calgary Flames
Kevin Lowe, Vice Chair, Oilers Entertainment Group – Edmonton Oilers
Luc Robitaille, President, Business Operations – Los Angeles Kings
John Tortora, Chief Operating Officer – San Jose Sharks
Doug Wilson, General Manager – San Jose Sharks
Thursday, January 29, 2015 – 12:30 p.m. PT
Rinkside Room – SAP Center
This obviously means that the Calgary Flames have bought the Stockton Thunder and will move their team, currently in Adirondack, to Stockton to complete the all-California Division for the 2015-16 season. However, it shouldn’t stop there. Sportsnet insider and former executive at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment John Shannon tweeted the following:
Over the next year, we will hear that potential cities for AHL teams in the new division will include Prescott,Arizona and Boise,Idaho.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) January 28, 2015
Obviously, the Arizona Coyotes would be the team to put their AHL affiliate in Prescott Valley, but the interesting portion is to see what team will go for Idaho. Should the Avalanche pass on putting a team in Loveland– where the Eagles in the ECHL play– then you’d have to think that Idaho could be the place for the Avalanche. If not, then perhaps the Vancouver Canucks would be the team that would come calling to make Boise home.
This will be a monumental day for the AHL, as it will probably see their first foray out in the west work for the longer-term, as times in Abbotsford, BC and Salt Lake City, Utah went by the wayside in a short time. The big sticking point for the AHL to make this work is having enough support from NHL teams to put their teams out west and make sure that they stick.
Now, the big issue and concern is what will happen with the cities that are being vacated. Are they going to get swallowed up by other NHL teams looking for affiliates?? Will they switch and become ECHL areas instead?? What will happen with the other western ECHL teams??
While this announcement answers some questions, it leaves plenty left to answer and opens some new questions, as well.