The NHL, however, is continent-wide, which means that many NHL teams are far away from their AHL affiliates. They don't like this because with travel arrangements, it takes an entire day to call someone up. This doesn't make for a very nimble operation. Not to mention it's expensive.
Here's an article out of the Edmonton Journal about how the AHL geography could change that's worth reading both for the juicy anonymous-sourced tidbits and the jokes.
Imagine the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks in a mutually beneficial enterprise.And I'm not talking about an over-subscribed Brian Burke/Kevin Lowe pay-per-view cage match.
More like a West Coast division of the American Hockey League. It could happen early in the next decade.
"It's not imminent," said a highly placed source. "It's three or four years away if it happens. L.A. owns a team, San Jose owns a team and they're not going to move soon. But an orderly transition could take place."
The Oilers dormant franchise was run in Edmonton during the lockout, but was shut down later so as not to compete with their NHL product.
Meanwhile, the AHL is unlikely to expand beyond 30 teams because their stated goal for years has been a one-to-one match between NHL and AHL teams. It's hard to think there are more than 30 cities that could support AHL hockey anyway. Lowell has the worst attendance in the league at 1,892, and it seems unlikely that they can hang on at that level. They could be on the move.
Chicago has the fifth-best attendance, averaging 6,826.