May 6: The AHL Board of Governors has approved the relocations to Abbotsford and Utica, from Utica and Binghamton respectively. The new divisional alignment will be announced at a later date, but Vancouver will be using Abbotsford and New Jersey using Utica for the 2021-22 season.
In addition, Utica and New Jersey have announced a new ten-year affiliation agreement. The organization will remain the Utica Comets, but jersey designs and colors will be revealed later in the year.
May 4: Amidst speculation that their current AHL affiliate in Utica will become New Jersey’s affiliate next season, Vancouver has found a new home for their prospects. The Canucks announced today that they will move their AHL squad to Abbotsford for next year, pending approval from the AHL’s Board of Governors on Thursday. Team owner Francesco Aquilini released the following statement:
With momentum starting to build, we are pleased to confirm our goal to bring our AHL franchise and Canucks prospects home to the City of Abbotsford. The move would bring significant opportunities for both our team and the community and it would begin a new chapter, bringing Canucks hockey to even more fans throughout the Lower Mainland.
Vancouver intends to operate the team out of the Abbotsford Centre which hosted Calgary’s AHL team from 2009 through 2014 after previously playing in Moline, Illinois. Travel was a concern as they were the westernmost city in the league and eventually, Calgary opted to head to New York.
Interestingly enough, the Canucks are taking the opposite approach, leaving New York to go to Abbotsford. Clearly, the fact that they’ll be able to have their AHL prospects in the same province is certainly ideal from a development standpoint but travel shouldn’t be as significant of a concern now with there now being an entire Pacific Division. At first glance, it would seem likely that Abbotsford would join that group, making it an eight-team division for next season with Palm Springs set to join that group for 2022-23.
This in my opinion is dumb of the Canucks. First, their farm team is (now was) loved by the people of Utica, NY. Now Utica will suffer with a Devils affiliation, devils destroy hockey communities (Lowell, Albany, Binghamton, Trenton, Atlantic City). Second, unless Calgary and/or Edmonton follow suit, they will still be far away from divisional opponents. They should’ve went to California, Nevada, or Arizona with their relocation. Fresno, CA; Long Beach, CA; Prescott Valley, AZ; or Reno, NV; for example, would’ve been a great fit geographically for all.
SJ – San Jose Barracuda
SEA – Palm Springs AHL Expansion
VGK – Henderson Silver Knights
LAK – Ontario Reign
ANA – San Diego Gulls
CGY – Stockton Heat
EDM – Bakersfield Condors
ARZ – Tucson Roadrunners
dave frost nhlpa
Salt Lake as well.
You are on the right track,but the issue is they are home half the season,but 90% of their division/conference games are in the US,making it easier to call up players now they are at least in the same time zone.
It wasn’t the Canucks decision to leave Utica. Their hand was forced. Utica elected to switch to the Devils, meaning the Canucks had to look elsewhere. Maybe they should’ve looked to California or Arizona for their relocation, but they had little choice but to leave Utica.
If that true then it still makes since for Utica to make that move. There’s more stability to pick up a NHL parent team that is a few hours bus ride away rather than risk it with a team that’s 4 time zones away and in a different country. The Canucks would have likely moved within the next few years anyways. I wonder if Utica tried to extend the partnership with Vancouver and they said no. You never know what happens behind the scenes. I worked for the Springfield Falcons for years and there was a lot of behind the back deals made over the years.
To play the devil’s advocate (pun not intended)… you could agree that the Devils’ AHL teams were all in bad markets. Lowell, Albany and Binghamton were all consistently at the bottom of the league for attendance. Utica has been a solid market for years – I believe they have a crazy sell out record.
And second I think NHL teams value for proximity of their AHL team over location to other AHL teams. Look at Tucson, Manitoba, Colorado, Texas and Henderson. Those AHL teams are a quick drive from their parent teams, but will likely need to fly to their away games.
Further my comment, they also could’ve went to Texas, bringing back the wronged San Antonio Rampage to make divisions more geographically compliant.
Yeah…the Rampage weren’t pulling it in. It cost more to open and operate the AT&T Center than tickets were pulling in. San Antonio just isn’t a home base for anything hockey, as much as I wish it was.
Isn’t Stockton in California?
They better hope crossing the border is allowed come next season, or they’ll be making trips to Laval instead of Henderson, NV.
Just glad they’re still the Comets. Lots of tradition in Utica and this is huge. Hopefully they keep Esche on as President because the community will quit on them if they lose him
Curious if Calgary might be next. I haven’t heard if an agreement has been reached to renew in Stockton.
Abbotsford is less than an hour from Vancouver . Has a beautiful building that seats about 7000 . Has tons of hockey fans . Good fit