The American Hockey League has officially announced the formation of a Pacific Division that will start for the 2015-16 playing season. The Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks will all moving their current AHL affiliates to California.
Press Release via AHL:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has formally and unanimously approved the steps necessary to create a Pacific Division within the AHL beginning with the 2015-16 season.
The Board has approved the following:
• The Anaheim Ducks will purchase the Norfolk Admirals AHL franchise and will relocate it from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego, Calif.
• The AHL franchise owned by the Calgary Flames will relocate from Glens Falls, N.Y., to Stockton, Calif.
• The AHL franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers will relocate from Oklahoma City, Okla., to Bakersfield, Calif.
• The AHL franchise owned by the Los Angeles Kings will relocate from Manchester, N.H., to Ontario, Calif.
• The AHL franchise owned by the San Jose Sharks will relocate from Worcester, Mass., to San Jose, Calif.
Full division alignments and schedule formats for the 2015-16 season will be determined by the Board of Governors at a later date.
“Relocating five teams is a complex process, and we are very excited to have brought this initiative to a successful outcome,” said Andrews. “The Western-based NHL clubs have been in dialogue with our league for almost three years, and today’s announcement launches a new era for the American Hockey League and for professional hockey in California.”
“This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come,” said Luc Robitaille, President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings. “I want to commend each of the participating clubs, along with Dave Andrews, Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, for their commitment, patience and willingness to work through a very challenging but worthwhile process in order to get to this day.”
“The immense growth of the game of hockey in the state of California shows that hockey fans here love the game and they support it,” said San Jose Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “Having our top prospects playing on the same coast as our National Hockey League team will greatly enhance our ability to monitor and enhance their development. The creation of this Pacific Division of the American Hockey League has been a long time in the making and is the result of an immense amount of hard work by the AHL, the NHL and the five Pacific Division teams. We are extremely excited to have this division become a reality and we can’t wait for October 2015.”
Formed in 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for players in all 30 National Hockey League organizations, as well as coaches, officials, executives, trainers and broadcasters throughout the NHL. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are graduates of the American Hockey League, and through the years the AHL has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
As mentioned in the release, full AHL divisional alignments for the 2015-16 season will be decided at a later date. One would assume a massive shuffle is in the cards with such a big change occurring.
While being a big day for the AHL it is also rather sad. You can give a wave goodbye to AHL hockey next season for Norfolk, Adirondack, Oklahoma City, Manchester, and Worcester. There is already chatter that ECHL hockey might step in to those markets but, fact today, their NHL affiliations are moving on without them.
Thoughts on today’s major AHL announcement? What will the Pacific Division mean in terms of the Western Conference and the Milwaukee Admirals? Does an announcement such as this make you appreciate the longevity of the Admirals that much more?