BY: Gerry Cantlon, HOWLINGS
HARTFORD, CT – On Thursday, the Arizona Coyotes unveiled its new partnership as well as the announcement that the AHL Board of Governors gave its seal of approval for the purchase and relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson. The new team will play in the fall at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC). It
For the moment, it’s the end of an 80-year history of the AHL in Springfield, which also happens to be the location of the league headquarters.
The final pieces of the puzzle to make the conditional approval permanent were that the Rio Nuevo council must approve $3.2 million in renovations to the TCC to have it comply with NHLPLA and AHLPLA standards outlined in their respective CBA’s. On Tuesday came the unanimous vote from the Tucson City Council, which gave their approval to a ten-year lease with the Arizona Coyotes. The approval allowed the AHL BOG to affirm the sale and relocation of the Falcons.
Many safeguards were put in place to protect the city in the event of any failures from low attendance or poor concessions sales. A “Name-The-Team” contest has begun, and they will now be the sixth team to play in the AHL’s Pacific Division. The relocated Falcons join the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks), Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings), Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers), the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames) and the San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks).
The Coyotes move of the Falcons leaves just the Vancouver Canucks as the only Western-based NHL team that has a team playing in the East, the Utica Comets. That will likely change in the next year with the expected addition of an NHL expansion team in Las Vegas and their requirement to have an AHL franchise located out West.
The AHL has one serious piece of business left to tend to, and that is the sale of the Portland Pirates by its local owner Ron Cain to a yet publicly unidentified Springfield, ownership group. The parent team, the Florida Panthers, have been not given any public blessing to the sale, and with issues still being discussed around the deal.
The league BOG has deferred a vote on the sale.
Cantlon’s Corner has learned from trusted sources who’ve identified a part of the ownership group. They include the now former owner of the Falcons, Charles Pompea, and the face of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon, who claims to be retired and out of the business, as well as several other investors yet to be identified. One of those would likely be the MGM-Springfield, who will assume management of the now empty Mass Mutual Central from Spectra on July 1st.
Daniel Paille becomes the second Wolf Pack player from last season to sign elsewhere and the seventh AHL’er to sign in Europe with Brynas IF (Sweden-SHL).Raphael Diaz was the first in the league and team going to EV Zug (Switzerland-LNA).
Raphael Diaz was the first in the league and team going to EV Zug (Switzerland-LNA).
Former Yale Bulldog and AHL regular season MVP in 2015-16 for the Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs, Brian O’Neill, becomes the eighth AHL’er leaving the Albany Devils and signing with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland-KHL). Wait until he gets a load of the thirteen-hour flights and all those time zone changes to and in Russia.
Former Wolf Pack Hannu Pikkarainen goes from Schwenniger in the German DEL to Islerlohn.
Former CT Whale defenseman Pavel Valentenko has signed to stay in Russia in the KHL with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk from Spartak Moscow.
Former Sound Tiger, Oliver Labelle, returns from HE Rouen (France-French Elite Magnus League) to be a player-assistant coach with the Reading Royals (ECHL) next season
Former Sound Tiger, Mike Iggulden retires from hockey after playing last year for Augsburger (Germany-DEL).
Ex-New Haven Nighthawk and New York Rangers goalie, Glen Hanlon, signs to be the GM of the Vancouver Giants (WHL) who are moving to play in nearby Surrey, BC next season, and they will retain the Vancouver name. Hanlon coached the Swiss National Team briefly last year resigning in October.
Former Yale Bulldog Denney Kearney goes from Tingryds AIF (Sweden-Allsvenskan) to HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).