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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Suspend him or not: Emelin boards Spezza, Kesler clips Dorsett

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After a weekend of fun and festivities, the NHL’s back and it’s already time to talk about potential suspensions. Two separate incidents on Tuesday could find Montreal’s Alexei Emelin and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler in hot water.

Early in the second period of the Canadiens’ tilt against the visiting Dallas Stars, Emelin gave chase to Jason Spezza behind the net and, with the puck coming towards the Stars center, Emelin gave him a shove from behind which resulted in a bloodied Spezza. Read more

Radek Dvorak calls it quits on 18-year, 1,260-game NHL career

Radek Dvorak (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images Sport)

Veteran right winger Radek Dvorak, who played 1,260 career regular-season NHL games with eight teams over 18 years, retired Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Dvorak was drafted by the Florida Panthers 10th overall in 1995, and developed into a solid, if unspectacular forward who could play defense (he still holds Florida’s team record for most shorthanded goals, with 16). He had a 31-goal campaign for the Rangers in 2000-01, but never scored more than 20 in a single season after that. Having had two separate stints with the team, he’s second in Panthers franchise history in games played (613), but also spent time with the Blueshirts, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and the Carolina Hurricanes. And he represented his homeland at the 2002 Olympics, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and numerous IIHF World Championships. Read more

Here are 10 storylines to watch the rest of the way

Slava Voynov  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Well, that was some “showcase of skill” wasn’t it? Unless of course, you consider bodychecking, backchecking, stopping pucks and skating hard for pucks to be valuable skills.

There’s a good chance that you’ve forgotten whether Team Toews or Team Foligno won as you read this. But it was a good weekend and good on the city of Columbus for being so hospitable and welcoming. And good on the players for letting their hair down a little and letting the fans in on the fun.

Now to more important matters, specifically the second half and stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Here are 10 storylines that should provide some compelling moments as we hit the most crucial part of the season: Read more

Power Rankings: Ducks soar back to No. 1 spot

Ken Campbell
Anaheim Ducks  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

During Anaheim’s win over Calgary Wednesday night, Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen was so dehydrated from the flu that he had to have intravenous treatments between periods. Man, the Ducks must really want to avoid having to play Ilya Bryzgalov.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Ducks, making them one of the hottest teams in the NHL going into the all-star break and putting them, once again, at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.) Read more

Getzlaf helps fight muscular dystrophy in hopes of saving friend

Jared Clinton
(via Sportsnet/Anaheim Ducks)

Ryan Getzlaf is one of the fiercest competitors in the NHL today. With his big frame, he can crash and bang in the corners and still dazzle with a highlight reel goal. But for a man defenders fear while on the ice, he couldn’t have a warmer heart off it.

This is a story about Getzlaf and one of his best friends – and no, we don’t mean Corey Perry. Getzlaf’s friendship with Hawken Miller, a young man who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease that generally does not see the boys afflicted make it past their mid-20s. From Sportsnet comes this moving video of Getzlaf and his effort to help Miller and his family work for a cure: Read more

Teemu Selanne’s retirement ceremony will jerk your tears

Adam Proteau
Teemu Selanne stands on the ice as his banner is raised to the rafters of Anaheim's Honda Center. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

With the caliber of player and person Teemu Selanne has been over the course of a 21-season, Hall of Fame-caliber professional hockey career, you knew his jersey retirement ceremony was going to be something special. And Sunday night in Anaheim, it was exactly that, with the Ducks putting on a fitting tribute and raising to the rafters the first retired jersey in franchise history.

Before Anaheim’s game against Selanne’s former Winnipeg Jets team, the right winger’s friends, family, past teammates (including Jari Kurri, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, George Parros and many more) and dignitaries including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were on hand to show their appreciation for him. That appreciation included a touching video tribute:

That was followed by the 44-year-old Finnish icon giving a heartfelt speech that exemplified the class and dignity with which he lived his life and treated others: Read more