AHL Announces Relocation Plans for 2015-16 Season


Amidst swirling rumors, the AHL confirmed Thursday its plans to move five affiliate teams to the state of California, beginning with the 2015-16 season.

The league will also introduce a new Pacific Division to house the relocating teams.

The AHL affiliates of the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will all be located in the state of California.

The moves are expected to lessen the strain of travel for players from those affiliates to their respective NHL teams.

Here’s how things break down.

The San Jose Sharks’ currently have an AHL affiliate in Worcester, MA — 3,094 miles from the California club. That’s the farthest distance between any AHL club and its parent affiliate, as the AHL is currently set up.

San Jose’s new affiliate will be located in San Jose itself and will, for the time being, play at the SAP Center. The name of the AHL club will be changed because, obviously, you can’t have two teams called the San Jose Sharks playing in the same building at different levels. This puts the NHL and AHL club in the same city with basically a zero-mile distance between the teams.

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  • The Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate is currently some 3,016 miles away in Manchester, NH. With the upcoming change, the Kings’ affiliate will relocate to Ontario, California — just 36 miles away.

    The Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate is currently located in Norfolk, VA – 2,702 miles away. The Ducks’ new affiliate will play in San Diego, just about 95 miles from Anaheim.

    For the Edmonton Oilers, their current AHL affiliation lies in Oklahoma City — 1,937 miles away. The team’s new affiliate will be located in Bakersfield, 1,743 miles away

    Finally, the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate is in Glens Falls, NY — 2,431 miles distance. The new affiliate will play in Stockton, which is still not incredibly close (1,437 miles away), but is significantly closer than being located all the way across the country.

    It’s unclear at this point exactly what the news will mean for the Rochester Americans, who are currently in the North Division of the Western Conference, along with Utica, Adirondack, Hamilton and Toronto.

    The dissolution of Manchester, Worcester and Norfolk from the Eastern Conference could open a spot for the Amerks to move there, but nothing is certain right now. The AHL Board of Governors will determine divisions and schedule information at a later date.

    Aside from the relocations in the AHL and the new division being created, this news also means there will be some changes at the ECHL level. Those announcements are expected to come from the league sometime next week, likely Friday, though it seems possible that Manchester could be one of the markets getting an ECHL team as a result.

    Several of the markets just announced to be getting AHL teams next season currently have ECHL teams playing there – including Bakersfield, Ontario and Stockton. Those markets will see an upgrade in the level of hockey played in their city, while the NHL teams will have their AHL prospects at much closer range for development, as well as any necessary call-ups.

    Overall, the AHL cut a total of 9,869 miles out in today’s moves.

    More information will be known shortly, with any division realignments and schedule changes expected to be announced after the AHL Board of Governors meet in May. ECHL announcements will come next week, with additional announcements such as names and logos for the newly-introduced AHL teams coming in the future.