West Coast relocation will change the AHL forever

Jared Clinton
Dave Andrews (Photo by Dan Hickling/AHL)

On Thursday, the AHL made official the announcement of the brand new Pacific Division. The California-based division, which will begin play next season, is more than a move for improved player development – it’s a sign that the league is changing forever.

Make no mistake, the new division makes sense for both NHL and AHL franchises. The ability to move players freely between the two teams and the opportunity to watch over player development benefits the NHL clubs greatly. For the AHL, it’s also a cost-cutting measure that lumps five teams in close proximity to each other to save swaths of money – and time – that would otherwise be spent on travel. Read more

ECHL will replace three relocated AHL teams in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
ECHL Logo Featured

It may not be the same league, but a trio of cities that were announced to be losing their AHL teams in 2015-16 will see the clubs replaced with ECHL hockey.

Manchester, N.H., Norfolk, Va., and Adirondack, which plays out of Glens Falls, N.Y., will each be recipients of relocated ECHL franchises for next season, each of which will replace a relocated AHL team. Read more

AHL’s Hershey Bears to wear hilarious Groundhog Day jerseys

Jared Clinton
(via Hershey Bears)

By Monday, Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog of them all, will emerge to let North America know whether or not to expect six more weeks of hockey weather. The day before, however, Hershey Bears fans can get a glimpse of what an early spring or longer winter could look like.

For the Bears’ Feb. 1 showdown with the Norfolk Admirals, the team will don special Groundhog Day jerseys, which will go up for auction following the game. The jerseys, which are good for a laugh, are split from front to back: the front has six more weeks of winter, while the back shows the groundhog living large during spring.

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AHL officially announces Pacific Division, five teams head west

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After months of speculation, the AHL officially announced on Thursday that five teams are moving to California for the 2015-16 season. The teams will form the new Pacific Division.

On hand for the announcement were AHL president Dave Andrews, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and representatives from the five clubs – the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames – that will have affiliates in the AHL’s newest division next season.

The relocations were voted through unanimously by the AHL’s Board of Governors. Read more

AHL moving West just one of several key U.S. hockey projects

The Ducks and Sharks will move their AHL teams to California (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Say hello to the American League’s Pacific Division. The dramatic shift that will see five AHL teams shifted to California not only shakes up the continent’s second-best circuit, but will also have big ramifications for how the game is embraced by the population in the Golden State.

“Hockey is growing in California and the West Coast,” said Anaheim GM Bob Murray at the official press conference. “This is going to take it one step further.”

From a grassroots perspective, the Pacific Division will nurture more hockey fans in a state that is already producing some pretty nice talent. Because it’s not just important that kids can watch players and prospects in the process of achieving NHL dreams, but that cities such as San Diego and Stockton get anchor teams that hopefully help the kids themselves start to play the game locally.

The AHL announcement is one of just several big projects on the go that will help the game as a whole. Here are four others to keep an eye on:

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Mike Richards will actually make more money playing in the minors

Ken Campbell
Mike Richards (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

If things go swimmingly well for Mike Richards, he won’t even have to take one trip on the old iron lung. The Manchester Monarchs of the American League don’t have a road game until a week from Friday and even then, it’s only a 100-mile ride to Providence.

And there’s a chance everything will be cleared up for Richards by that time and he’ll be back in the NHL. Since the Los Angeles Kings put Richards on waivers earlier this week, he has been the subject of considerable trade speculation. The only problem is that Richards’ trade value is currently at an all-time low. In order for the Kings to deal him now, not only would they have to eat salary, they might even have to give their trading partner an asset to do the deal. Read more

The Hot List: Nicolas Roy can shoot with a stick or a rifle

Nicolas Roy (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The busy season continues, with lots to report on in the prospect world. The CHL Top Prospects Game was last week, while the North American League Prospects Tournament field was just announced. Toss in the American League’s All-Star Game and there’s a lot to cover off, so let’s look at some of the kids we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

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Go west, young man: AHL’s Pacific coast move taking shape

Jared Clinton
ahl-logo

The prospect of the AHL putting teams on the west coast has long been talked about, and it appears the creation of a Pacific division has been all but settled.

On Sunday, Kevin Oklobzija of the Democrat and Chronicle reported there will officially be five teams playing next season out of California in order to be closer to their NHL affiliates. In addition, there are two other clubs looking at moving west. Read more