A big development in the creation of the AHL Pacific Division.
The CHL (Central Hockey League) Denver Cutthroats formally suspended operations for the 2014-15 season yesterday. The team which went to the CHL President Cup finals is coached by former Wolf Pack Brad Smyth and the President/GM Derek Armstrong.
Then this morning the Arizona Sundogs followed suit because Denver was their closest rival by 13 hours and 23,490 miles in the Central Hockey League. Cantlon’s Corner first reported this direction last month.
Two sources have indicated AHL franchises have now been purchased by the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes that will allow both teams to play in the AHL next fall as their top farms in Denver and Prescott Valley, AZ. The Denver portion of this new AHL arrangement will be a year earlier than previous sources have indicated. So now it looks like six teams will migrate West next fall.
The original five would be LA (from Manchester to Ontario, CA), San Jose (Worcester to Fresno, CA), Winnipeg (St. John’s to Thunder Bay), Phoenix and Anaheim.
Anaheim who will go to San Diego and play out of the Valley View Casino Center (12.920) is said to be the last team that needs to buy an AHL franchise and then apply to relocate as per AHL standard franchise rules.
In their respective team press releases both Denver and Arizona said they would return to play next season, but not stating which league. Denver team will play out of the Denver Coliseum and Prescott Valley at 4,810 Tim Toyota Center and the team is coached by former Sound Tiger/Wolf Pack Kevin Colley son of New Haven Nighthawks legend Tom Colley. The teams GM is former UHL New Haven Knights GM of six weeks Chris Presson..
This leaves the CHL with seven teams for this season yet no schedule has been released. The league was too fold after the end of the season,but are teetering on the brink now with Denver and Prescott Valley (Arizona Sundogs) suspending operations. A minor league is legally defined with greater than six teams anything below that is considered legally semi-pro and would affect player visas from Canada and Europe of which there a limited supply of for professional leagues.
The last three AHL teams to go out West in two years will be Vancouver (Utica to potentially Abbotsford, BC), Edmonton (Oklahoma City to Bakersfield, CA) and Calgary from Glens Falls where they start the season as the Adirondack Flames.
Basically most of the West Coast based ECHL will go AHL and a percentage of East Coast AHL teams will be going ECHL and sources indicate cities like Utica, Glens Falls, Worcester, Springfield, Portland and Manchester will likely form a Northern division of the ECHL.
The big wheels keep turning.