sohiosportsfreak

Minor League Hockey Shake-up...coming

Recommended Posts

Well, add another to the list...

http://wavy.com/2015/01/07/norfolk-admirals-expected-to-be-sold-2/

Fourteen years after becoming an affiliate of the American Hockey League, it appears the Norfolk Admirals franchise will be sold to its parent team – the Anaheim Ducks.

10 On Your Side sources confirm that the move is inevitable as part of a new AHL Western Division that is expected to be created by five NHL teams. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, L.A. Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim all have AHL affiliates on the east coast and moving those affiliates to the west would save time and money when players are sent up and down from the major league level to Triple-A.

Sources tell WAVY-TV and FOX 43 Sports Director Bruce Rader the sale of the Admirals may not be finalized but it appears to be a “done deal.” The AHL franchise would be sold by Young to the Ducks, and this would be its last season in Norfolk.

This does not necessarily mean the end of professional hockey in Hampton Roads. Sources say the city may attract a team from the ECHL – most likely the Bakersfield Condors, the double-A franchise owned by Edmonton.

Although the Oilers would own the team, there is speculation Young will manage the franchise and the team will switch its name to the Admirals and continue to play its games at the Norfolk Scope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There can be only one, but how ignominious to be outlived by a skeleton.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They could keep the Admirals moniker if they do go to San Diego, with the Navy presence and all. (Although, if it is San Diego, I fully expect Gulls.) Or if they went to Long Beach, they could pull it off with the Seal Beach base right there and the port, obviously. But speaking of Long Beach:

It seems like Fresno, Long Beach, and Abbotsford (Canucks only) could also be markets to consider, if only because they have the facilities. But if the AHL sets up a 5-team league that only plays itself in California, it's gonna be an ugly disaster that probably will also manage to screw the ECHL at the same time.

I don't know if Long Beach would work at the AHL level if it's not a Ducks or Kings affiliate. At the IHL and ECHL level, it worked for what it was. But say if the Sharks went into Long Beach instead of Stockton/Fresno/San Jose, Ducks/Kings fans aren't going to go watch the Sharks prospects. (There would be even less of a care if it was Calgary or Vancouver.) Stockton and then Fresno should be higher on the list than Long Beach. (Although if they went to Long Beach, I'd be applying for jobs yesterday.)

Why would that be a disaster? If you're saying that they just cycle through the five teams over and over, then yeah maybe. There's going to have to be some schedule adjustments to make this all work. Didn't they kind of do this with their Texas/OKC circuit? As for the ECHL, they could probably stand to be a little bit more EC than they've been since the mergers, anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, the talk all has been that the AHL West would basically function as its own league until the playoffs, as the ECHL West does now. So in a 5-team league, that means playing each opponent 18 times in a season, and always one team unable to play, which probably leads to a lot of scheduling of games on less desirable nights. It also probably bones alignments in the Midwest and Texas, though to what extent, I'm not certain. There's still a lot to shake out here.

One unrelated thing that has to happen - I mean has to - is that Peoria either goes back up to the ECHL or drops to juniors like Bloomington did. The SPHL is running a 9-team league with 8 southern teams and Peoria. Take the hint, Rivs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, the talk all has been that the AHL West would basically function as its own league until the playoffs, as the ECHL West does now. So in a 5-team league, that means playing each opponent 18 times in a season, and always one team unable to play, which probably leads to a lot of scheduling of games on less desirable nights. It also probably bones alignments in the Midwest and Texas, though to what extent, I'm not certain. There's still a lot to shake out here.

One unrelated thing that has to happen - I mean has to - is that Peoria either goes back up to the ECHL or drops to juniors like Bloomington did. The SPHL is running a 9-team league with 8 southern teams and Peoria. Take the hint, Rivs.

It would be weird having a 5-team pseudo-league; is there any chance there are some games played against central teams (Iowa, Texas, Milwaukee, etc.)--or less likely--are there going to be more than 5 teams on the West Coast?

Edited by DustDevil61

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having just 5 teams playing amongst each other is stupid. If it were up to me, I'd bring back the IHL and have all of the Western Conference teams put their affiliates there.

Also, I'd be in favor of Peoria dropping to juniors. The USHL needs more teams in "hockey states". 4 teams in Iowa, 3 in Nebraska, South Dakota? It's a joke.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I've said before, the solution I'd favor would be an 18-team AHL limited to Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, and New England, and then a 14-team IHL of the West, South, and Midwest. The extra two teams would be to give a leg up to the inevitable NHL expansion teams and to temporarily liberate NHL teams from affiliating with the Wolves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having just 5 teams playing amongst each other is stupid. If it were up to me, I'd bring back the IHL and have all of the Western Conference teams put their affiliates there.

Also, I'd be in favor of Peoria dropping to juniors. The USHL needs more teams in "hockey states". 4 teams in Iowa, 3 in Nebraska, South Dakota? It's a joke.

The Junior Rivermen would die a quick and ugly death. ECHL or bust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, there's really no tradition of junior hockey in most of the US. That's why they're in little towns or community rinks in bigger towns. Janesville has a junior hockey team. That means they have more hockey teams than they have job openings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ECHL top attendance teams, 2014-15:

1. Ontario (California) Reign- 7,412

2. Fort Wayne Komets- 7,345

3. Toledo Walleye- 6,460

4. Orlando Solar Bears- 5,943

5. Colorado Eagles- 5,289

AHL bottom attendance teams, 2014-15

26. Oklahoma City Barons- 3,344 (FOLDING)

27. Worcester Sharks- 3,239

28. Albany Devils- 2,975
29. Springfield Falcons- 2,912
30. Portland (Maine)- 2,784


Some interesting moves that I could see happening:

Colorado Avalanche move their farm team from Cleveland to Loveland (Eagles).

Lake Erie Monsters (8,178 per game, 2nd in AHL) 1,334 miles from Denver
Colorado Eagles (5,289 per game, 5th in ECHL) 52 miles from Denver

Columbus leaves Springfield for the now vacant Lake Erie.

Springfield Falcons (2,912 per game, 29th in AHL) 695 miles from Columbus
Lake Erie Monsters (8,178 per game, 2nd in AHL) 144 miles from Columbus

Springfield drops to ECHL.

Florida pulls out of San Antonio for Orlando

San Antonio Rampage (5,601 per game, 10th in AHL) 1,362 miles from Miami
Orlando Solar Bears (5,943 per game, 4th in ECHL) 223 miles from Miami

Arizona moves back to San Antonio from Portland

Portland Pirates (2,784 per game, 30th in AHL) 2,747 miles from Glendale
San Antonio Rampage (5,601 per game, 10th in AHL) 981 miles from Glendale

Portland drops to ECHL

Vancouver moves their farm team cross-country from Utica to Victoria

Utica Comets (3,717 per game, 22nd in AHL) 2,903 miles from Vancouver
Victoria Royals- WHL (4,534 per game, 9th in WHL) 71 miles from Vancouver

Abbotsford joins WHL (3,007 per game, would be 18th in WHL)

Utica joins ECHL

Los Angeles finally gets out of Manchester and moves to Ontario

Manchester Monarchs (5,548 per game, 11th in AHL) 3,016 miles from Los Angeles

Ontario Reign (7,412, 1st in ECHL) 37 miles from Los Angeles

New Jersey moves east to Manchester from Albany

Albany Devils (2,975 per game, 28th in NHL) 147 miles from Newark
Manchester Monarchs (5,548 per game, 11th in AHL) 256 miles from Newark

Albany to ECHL


TL;DR version:

To AHL: Colorado Eagles (COL), Orlando Solar Bears (FLA), Victoria Royals (VAN), Ontario Reign (LA)

To ECHL: Springfield Falcons, Portland Pirates, Utica Comets, Albany Devils

To WHL: Abbotsford Heat

Total miles saved: 10,440

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Springfield and Portland can get away with low attendance because they have such low travel costs. Also, it's always a quick drive to Boston, and you can fly to anywhere of NHL relevance direct from Boston.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Springfield and Portland can get away with low attendance because they have such low travel costs. Also, it's always a quick drive to Boston, and you can fly to anywhere of NHL relevance direct from Boston.

Also the AHL is headquartered in Springfield. Springfield's had bad attendance forever and could go down to an attendance of "friends and family" and even noted NHL lickspittle David Andrews would still say "now wait a second..." to a proposed move.

EDIT, also Lake Erie is owned by Dan Gilbert, who basically uses the team as a loss leader to fill arena dates. You're going to have difficulty prying that franchise loose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just for the record there is an active WHL (I think) team in San Diego named the Gulls....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just for the record there is an active WHL (I think) team in San Diego named the Gulls....

They're a Jr. A team. $100,000 in "go away or add a Jr. to your nickname" money will be more money than they've ever seen at once.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another wrinkle to all of this is that Montreal is looking to put their farm team in Laval. That would mean Hamilton would be without a parent club, and could go to the OHL.

What I would be interested to see would be Winnipeg moving their farm team to Hamilton, and Quebec's NHL team (c'mon, it's inevitable) picking up the IceCaps.

Winnipeg to St. John's (3,297 miles)

Winnipeg to Hamilton (1,348 miles)

Quebec City to St. John's (1,435 miles)

EDIT: San Diego's rink is perfect for the AHL

o.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An additional strike against Springfield as one of the relocation sites is that the MGM Casino is moving into town, and has already announced a partnership with the MassMutual Center (where the Falcons play) and has sponsored the Falcons since 2012. The partnership proposal states that MGM commits to an additional three-year sponsorship post-opening of the casino.

That's not to say that such a proposal couldn't be transferred to an ECHL team, but it does give some insight as to why a lower attendance number is less of a worry in Springfield than in other places.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The AHL as you know it died in 2001.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always have a soft spot for the Falcons and wish they would draw better. They have a pretty committed core of fans and if you're in between Hartford and Springfield, the Falcons are by far the better bargain compared to the Wolf Pack, who charge as if the Whalers are still in town. I also figured the Falcons would start drawing more since they were winning. I'll never forget the vision of Bruce Landon throwing up his arms and leaving the Civic Center as the 2004 Falcons dropped another third-period lead to Lowell. Fun times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer the question about the California sub-league, it's kinda like that in the West division. I don't think the Stars even play an Eastern conference team this season. I remember last year when my dad and I were going to try to see if the Falcons came to CPC, to see that the easternmost team was Charlotte or Rochester. I don't know if any other teams do it that way though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.