In this week’s Farm Report, Scotty looks at how Dany Heatley has been able to transition from the NHL spotlight to the AHL bus trips. The Indy Fuel have been making noise in the standings, but how about at the box office?? Tyler Brown used this summer to readjust himself and his game, while RG Flath is using the move to the ECHL as a learning experience in his leadership role. All that, plus News and Notes and We Hardly Knew Ye
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.
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.
On this week’s Farm Report, Scotty talks about the great piece done by ESPN’s Katie Strang about Cory LaRose’s venture out of and back into hockey and how the Charlotte Checkers are helping him get his love for the game back. Many writers in the ECHL thinks there needs to be a little more justice when guys get plucked from to the AHL, but sometimes it’s not the league’s fault in that. The Norfolk Admirals have a lot of tough guys on their roster, but thanks to adapting, they’ve become more valuable than just throwing fists. Oh, and there’s some more news developing from the AHL West migration this week as we get closer to a possible announcement during All-Star Weekend. All that plus News and Notes and We Hardly Knew Ye
-It was a perfect weekend for Richard Bachman. In the two games that he played of the three that the Oklahoma City Barons had this weekend, he stopped all 54 shots against him from the Rochester Americans and Hamilton Bulldogs. Plus, for the Barons– it was a perfect weekend with three wins, which includes a 5-4 OT win over the Adirondack Flames. Aside from Bachman, Andrew Miller had himself a weekend with three goals and two assists to go along with Ilro Pakarinen two goals and an assist. The win keeps the Barons five points clear of the Utica Comets for 1st overall in the Western Conference and one point ahead of the Springfield Falcons for 1st overall in the AHL.
-Despite all the news surrounding the team’s future in Norfolk, the Admirals went to Pennsylvania and took two of three games on the weekend with a win in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and split in Hershey. Emerson Etem racked up three goals and two assists, while captain Dave Steckel chipped in two goals of his own. Jason Labarbera stopped 54 of 57 shots with a shutout on Friday, while Igor Bobkov got his second win of the season on Sunday– his first since coming back from Utah. However, they’ll need a lot more than this weekend to salvage the season– as they are last in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the league in goals for.
-The giving season may be over, but no one told that to the Wheeling Nailers’ Zack Torquato who had six assists (along with one goal) this weekend as the Nailers won two of their three games this weekend. Not to be outdone, Morgan Ellis had three goals and three assists, while Derek Army notched a pair of goals with an assist. However, the Nailers lone blemish on the weekend was a part of history as they got shutout by the Indy Fuel– which was the first road win and shutout in franchise history for the Fuel as Shane Owen was the goalie who gets that recognition and shut the Nailers down for the weekend.
-It’s a little unusual for two goalies to get their first game action of the season in the same weekend on the same team, but Tate Maris and Troy Redmann did just that for the Colorado Eagles, who were hampered by the call-up of Doug Carr and the injury to Clarke Saunders. On Friday, Maris got the start– his first in seven years– and had a shaky first period before settling down and letting the defense help him out– letting only 17 shots get to the Colorado native in a 5-3. With Saunders ruled out on Saturday, the Eagles signed Redmann that morning and he went on to stop 27 of 28 shots in a 4-1 win.
Photo by Jim Purvis, via Ice Bears Booster Club
-The dominance on the road by the Knoxville Ice Bears continued as they went into the Huntsville and took both games on the weekend. The games on the weekend were one-goal affairs, including Josh Cousineau‘s overtime winner on Saturday, which capped a great performance by Braely Torris— who stopped 42 of 43 shots. On Friday, Knoxville came back with goals from Berkley Scott and Lucas Van Natter to cap a 3-2 win in regulation. This was after Huntsville kept Knoxville home record dismal by winning on Thursday in Knoxville 4-2.
-Despite being shutout on Saturday, the Mississippi RiverKings took two of three from the Peoria Rivermen this weekend, holding the Rivermen to only four goals on 92 shots on the weekend. Matt Whitehead kept his team scoring lead alive with two goals and an assist on the weekend, with Peter Di Salvo picking up both wins on the weekend, even though Adam Courchaine only allowed one goal in the lost Saturday.
This week, the AHL West news hit the fan with teams buying, selling, and completely making the silly season come in full force just at the start of the year. Scotty will try to sort it all out, but could leave you more confused as ever. One thing not confusing is Olie Kolzig’s reasoning to step down to a development coaching role and how he’s adjusting to it, Drew MacIntrye is not confused with his place in AHL history, the Columbus Cottonmouths players aren’t confused with why they moved down from Edmonton, while the AHL and ECHL All-Star announcements will be as confusing as you let it. All that, some news and notes and We Hardly Knew Ye
AHL All-Star Rosters: http://theahl.com/rosters-announced-ahl-all-star-classic-p195655
ECHL All-Star Starters: http://www.echl.com/starters-named-for-echl-all-star-team-p195663
ECHL All-Star Reserves: http://www.echl.com/reserves-and-alternates-named-for-all-star-classic-p195683
CLICK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD
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.