NOTE: OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE AT THE END OF THE POST
With the AHL officially making the move to the AHL Pacific, there’s obviously a trickle down effect and some that has been document here and on the podcast before.
First, with Norfolk moving to San Diego for the AHL; the Edmonton Oilers announced that they will move their ECHL operation from Bakersfield (where the AHL is going to be now from Oklahoma City) to Norfolk and be named the Admirals. The Norfolk area is well-versed in the ECHL, as the Hampton Roads Admirals played in the ECHL from 1989 until 2000 and were one of the top teams in the league with three Kelly Cup championships to their name.
Next, with the Calgary Flames buying the Stockton Thunder and moving them up to the AHL; the Flames announced that their ECHL affiliate will now be in Adirondack, where the AHL team currently resides. The area is known for Double-A hockey with the Adirondack IceHawks and Frostbite from 1999 until 2004. Also in the swapping game– the LA Kings have said that the Manchester Monarchs will be the ECHL affiliate now, moving from Ontario, California.
There is no word on what will happen with the Worcester area as the Sharks moved their AHL team out of there and they do have an affiliation agreement with the Allen Americans; although some have said that the Vancouver Canucks are “kicking tires” on buying the Allen Americans for their AHL affiliate. The Anaheim Ducks could keep their ECHL team in Utah, which would be the only team to not change something or another in this whole deal.
For the ECHL, the biggest questions are what’s going to happen to the west coast teams that are now in the ECHL. The Alaska Aces have already said they’re all-in, but they always know they’ll be out in the lurch for the most part and will be fine regardless. The other three teams left in the West after this shake-up– Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, and Utah Grizzlies– should all be fine as their programs are solid ones and have been successful regardless of the area they have been in . Realignment wise could be better off for these teams, most likely pulling in the Rapid City Rush, Wichita Thunder, and one or both of the Tulsa Oilers and/or Allen Americans.
Realignment may be a little bit tricky, but overall– there’s a lot more time to figure this out than it was to figure out how to make the Central Division fit into the schedule in under two weeks before opening puck-drop. The ECHL is getting back to their roots almost, shifting back to the east coast, but they are more importantly not leaving good hockey markets in the dark with the AHL moving out of them.
EDIT 1:00 PM MT: The ECHL has released the official press release of the changes of the teams, Las Vegas leaving, and the membership cap of 30 teams.