With Peoria, Illinois now without a franchise, another inevitable shakeup was coming as far as AHL realignment for the Milwaukee Admirals.
Enter the Iowa Wild (formerly the Houston Aeros) who replace the Rivermen, one of my favorite old school minor league franchises. Des Moines is returning to the AHL stage for the first time since 2009, when the infamous Iowa Chops played in the league. Certainly moving a team from Houston to Des Moines gets Minnesota’s prospects a lot closer to the Twin Cities, but its hard to believe that the city of Houston will no longer have either an NHL or AHL franchise. However, it will be fun for Milwaukee fans to see Minnesota’s prospects on a much more frequent basis. I’m curious to see if the playoff battles from previous years with the Aeros will carry over into the new divisional matchups.
As you all might already know, Chicago (AHL) once again changed affiliations for the 2013-14 season, taking on an affiliation with the St. Louis Blues, which formerly had its top prospects in Peoria. Vancouver moved on to Utica (now in the North Division of the Western Conference), after its two-year affiliation with the Wolves.
Abbotsford is now in the West Division, where it will have a division rival in Charlotte a mear 2,900 miles away (or eight large states and a border crossing). Grand Rapids stays put in the Midwest Division, where they geographically belong.
For a grid of the new divisions, click here.
For a list of NHL affilations for 2013-14, click here.
So Roundtable, are you ready for some new rivalries?