This story has been developing in the background rather quickly and today saw an official announcement. The AHL’s Board of Governors has unanimously granted conditional approval of the transfer of ownership of the Springfield Falcons AHL franchise to the Arizona Coyotes including the relocation efforts from Springfield, Massachusetts to Tucson, Arizona for the 2016-17 season.
Press Release via AHL:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Convening today in Chicago for its Spring Meeting, the American Hockey League’s Board of Governors unanimously granted conditional approval of the transfer of ownership of the Springfield Falcons AHL franchise to the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes, as well as the relocation of that franchise from Springfield, Mass., to Tucson, Ariz., beginning with the 2016-17 season.
Should all conditions of the transaction be met, the Coyotes’ AHL franchise will begin play this fall at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.
The Board of Governors is also currently reviewing an application for the transfer of ownership and relocation of the Portland Pirates AHL franchise from Portland, Maine, to Springfield, Mass., for 2016-17. It is expected the Board will reconvene to vote on that request within two weeks.
Founded in 1936 and now with franchises in 30 cities across North America, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 15th year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games in 2015-16.
This likely sets the stage for another one of those lovely AHL realignment efforts with a new team joining the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. If I had to hazard a guess, considering the Springfield Falcons were an Eastern Conference team, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finally kick the Charlotte Checkers out of the Western Conference and make the two AHL teams swap conferences.
As always, the AHL is an ever changing landscape so this probably isn’t going to be the last bit of news regarding teams moving around. This especially is becoming more and more true with many NHL teams wanting their AHL affiliates closer to home. Considering the Milwaukee Admirals and Nashville Predators have been paired at the hip since the Predators franchise came into existence it makes you wonder if that shift in business practices would ever see a change closer to Nashville. Could the Predators swap out the Admirals as the AHL affiliate for say the current ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones down the road? The term “The Road To Nashville Goes Through Milwaukee” is spoken quite a lot from everyone topside in Nashville. I have to believe the long standing bond between the two is pretty safe… for now.
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