Saturday, December 13, 2008

AHL west coast migration begins: Abbotsford, BC

Just as Brian Burke moves to the Eastern Conference, we get the beginning of his "west coast solution." Burke often touted the idea that the AHL needed to move some teams to the west coast in order to be closer to the western NHL teams. Having an affiliate all the way across the continent, like Portland, Maine, was inconvenient and expensive. Too hard to stash them for a day or two off the salary cap. Obviously.

The Calgary Flames look like the first to benefit from "going west" by their young men, as the Quad City (Iowa) Flames are reportedly moving to Abbotsford, British Columbia. They would take over from Winnipeg and San Antonio as the westernmost AHL team. And in a follow-up story, Calgary denies they are moving their affiliate. But denials nearly always happen when the season is going on. Hard to tell anything from this. What we do know for sure is how bad attendance has been in Quad City.

The [Quad City] Flames rank 28th in the 29-team AHL, with an average attendance of 2,718 fans per game through 14 of this season’s 40 home games.

That’s a decline of almost 22 percent from an opening year that saw the Flames finish 27th in AHL attendance with an average of 3,523 fans per night.

An important line in the story is that Abbotsford talked to four AHL teams on the brink. There could be three or more teams on the move this offseason. It was already reported that the Edmonton Oilers are looking at places like Oklahoma City for their franchise. There's always a few affiliation changes, but relocations could be more numerous.


Werewolverine said...

That would probably mean the end of the Victoria Salmon Kings in the ECHL, then. I wouldn't think that metropolitan area would support three different tiers of pro hockey. Bummer, 'cause the S Kings were just starting to put together a successful program, too.

Anonymous said...

Victoria is on an island west of Vancouver while Abbotsford is about an hour east of Vancouver. I am guessing the two minor league teams would not interfer with each other whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I think they would be fine out there. Might as well put the team in a place that knows hockey. And just a quick note, the Flames play in Illinois, not Iowa.

Anonymous said...

That's correct, the Flames play in Moline, Illinois. It is located right by Iowa, however.

Go Wolves! :)