Looking back, it seems to have all started in the 1950’s with the Dodgers, Giants and the Atheletics , then came the Lakers, Royals and Warriors, more recently the Jets, Nordiques, North Stars and Whalers.
Decades later they’re still at it.
The American Hockey League, in operation since the 1930’s with roots in the northeast, is now launching a Pacific Division. It means exciting times for executives and fans out west. But it also means pain, disappointment and disillusionment for many back east.
The whole thing is not pretty. Wish it could be different and more humane. Perhaps it will change – after all, the Jets did return to Winnipeg.
On the other hand, talk to one-time in fans in Quebec, Hartford or Atlanta, which has lost an NHL team twice. On Long Island, the Islanders are about to play their last game. And, just this past week the NHL Commissioner was quoted as telling a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors that he considers a half-billion dollars expansion fee to be a reasonable figure.
AHL changes for 2015-2016:
Seven franchises will move for the 2015-16 season, representing nearly a quarter of the 30-team league.
In January 2015, the AHL announced the formation of a new ‘Pacific Division’, to be composed of existing AHL franchises relocated to California. The teams are all affiliates of teams in the NHL’s Pacific Division.
- The Adirondack Flames, affiliate of the Calgary Flames, will relocate to Stockton to become the Stockton Heat. The ECHL Stockton Thunder will relocate to Glens Falls, New York, to become the ECHL Adirondack Thunder.
- The Manchester Monarchs, affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, will relocate to Ontario, California, to become the AHL Ontario Reign. The ECHL Ontario Reign will relocate to Manchester, NH, to become the ECHL Manchester Monarchs.
- The Norfolk Admirals, affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, will relocate to San Diego to become the San Diego Gulls.
- The Edmonton Oilers’ AHL franchise will relocate to Bakersfield, CA to become the AHL Bakersfield Condors, after the Oklahoma City Barons team folds at the end of the 2014-15 season. The ECHL Bakersfield Condors will relocate to Norfolk, VA, and become the ECHL Norfolk Admirals.
- The Worcester Sharks, affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, will relocate to San Jose to become the San Jose Barracuda.
In March 2015, the AHL announced more relocations, this time in Canada.
- The current St. John’s IceCaps franchise, affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, will relocate to Winnipeg, where it played from 1996 to 2011 as the Manitoba Moose. It is not yet known if the Moose moniker will be re-used.
- The Hamilton Bulldogs, affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, will relocate to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and become a new edition of the IceCaps. The name will be kept but the color scheme is expected to change to reflect the one of the Canadiens. However, the team is expected to move again after the 2016-17 season to a new arena in Montreal’s suburb of Laval. A Junior team will move into the arena Hamilton, Ontario.
” But the implication of the Californian relocation is that this will begin a shift that will see teams move from long-established AHL markets and into areas where proximity will likely rule over everything. While not necessarily a bad thing for the growth of the game in the United States, it does stand to strip some hockey-loving markets of their minor pro teams and, in that, turn the AHL into more of a subsidiary of the NHL than its own, true league…..AHL hockey forever changed (on Thursday), and moving west is a small but not insignificant part of it. No longer is the AHL about the minor pro game in rabid hockey towns, and no longer will it be about building unique relationships between cult heroes and fans. Instead, it will be about creating a development system for the NHL where the big league clubs can groom their players. And that, not the move to California, might be the biggest change the AHL undergoes…”
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