Another Round of AHL Affiliation Changes

TORONTO-Another American Hockey League (AHL) season is approaching and it wouldn’t feel right unless there were some changes made regarding which team is affiliated with each National Hockey League (NHL) organization.

Image Courtesy of ahl.com

Because the Atlanta Thrashers re-located to Winnipeg, the first team to shut down in the AHL was the Manitoba Moose. Rather than being technically folded, True North Sports & Entertainment shipped the Moose east and are now positioned in St John’s; still yet to be named.

Because the Moose were in partnership with the Vancouver Canucks, last year’s Stanley Cup Finalists needed to find a new club of their own when it was announced that St John’s would be staying with the Winnipeg Jets and True North.

In total, five affiliation changes were made.

AHL TEAM

PREVIOUS AFFILIATE

NEW AFFILIATE

St John’s/Manitoba Moose

Vancouver Canucks  2001-2011

Winnipeg Jets

Chicago Wolves

Atlanta Thrashers 2001-2011

Vancouver Canucks

Rochester Americans

Florida Panthers 2008-2011

Buffalo Sabres

San Antonio Rampage

Phoenix Coyotes 2005-2011

Florida Panthers

Portland Pirates

Buffalo Sabres 2008-2011

Phoenix Coyotes

Every team had their own reason to switch locations however it was the Buffalo Sabres organization that may have benefitted the most from these changes.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula not only aligned a relationship with Rochester, but purchased the organization outright; giving him control of the teams future. By aligning the Sabres with a club inside the same state, call-ups will have less distance to travel and costs will be lower than other teams who have to fly to more destinations. It’s the same convenience the Toronto Marlies came into when they transferred the St John’s Maple Leafs to Ontario, but as Pegula has shown since purchasing the Sabres, money is there to be spent.

Also, a Sabres-Americans bond is nothing new. It’s more of a reuniting as these teams worked together for 29 years, from 1979 to 2008.

The Portland Pirates new partnership with the Phoenix Coyotes is believed to be a five year deal and will allow Portland to carry on the Pirates name and logo; rather than changing to the Coyotes name and colours.

As for the San Antonio Rampage, they also had a previous relationship with their present big club, the Florida Panthers. They were aligned for three seasons starting in 2002, the Rampage’s expansion year.

Set back from the changes is the Canucks. First, their 10 year relationship with a Canadian team was swept away without little choice. Second, with them now calling upon players from Chicago, it’s more than an extra 1000 kilometres to fly west for a home game.

Keeping a team affiliation may seem fleeting, but it can be done. Just look at the Providence Bruins,who are easy to recognize as Boston’s farm team. Sure they share a name but being in relations since 1992, when the Maine Mariners were moved to Providence, sure does help in identifying the association. Being able to keep a partnership for two decades is quite remarkable when you look at how many teams have had to fold or re-locate due to various reasons over the years. Mind you, not all change is bad. And if you follow the AHL close enough, you’re used to it.

Full AHL affiliation list for 2011/12 season

Kyle Cicerella

Follow on Twitter @KyleTheReporter

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