By: John Joseph
Date: February 3rd 2015 08:58 AM
Last week the American Hockey League approved plans for 5 AHL teams affiliated with NHL parent clubs to relocated to the west coast. Right now the AHL is a mostly east coast league with the majority of its teams located in the northeast part of the United States. The relocation of five teams marks the league's entrance to the west coast. Currently the most westward AHL affiliates in the United States are in Texas and Oklahoma with the Oklahoma AHL affiliate being one of those relocating.
The westward movement has the AHL affiliates for the Anahiem Ducks moving to San Diego, CA, Calgary Flames to Stockton, CA, Edmonton Oilers to Bakersfield, CA, Los Angeles Kings to Ontario, CA and the San Jose Sharks AHL team to San Jose, CA where it will share the current Sharks arena.
The Pacific conference NHL teams for years have been seeking to have their minor league affiliates closer to home for years and finally the pieces came together to make it work. By having the AHL affiliates closer to home, the teams are able to train, recall, monitor, and move players much easier.
Notably absent from the announcement was any mention of Las Vegas or Reno. There was thought to be some interest by one or more of the NHL teams in having their AHL affiliate in Las Vegas. However plans for that were thought to be put on ice because the pieces are still coming together for Las Vegas to get their own NHL team owned by Bill Foley and the Maloof family.
While Reno at this point is probably off the radar for now, if Las Vegas does get their own NHL team an AHL affiliate in Reno would be be a strong possibility. Combined the two teams would reach nearly the entire population of Nevada and work together to build up professional hockey statewide. Outside of our state, other potential landing spots for AHL teams include Boise, Idaho, Sacramento, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah.