AHL landscape changes again

As of last year, the American Hockey League’s conferences and divisions looked as follows.

AHL Conference List

Nest season we’ll have two new teams added into the fold as Adirondack Flames and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, replace Abbotsford Heat and Adirondack Phantoms.

Before the AHL officially confirmed it’s new alignment for the forthcoming season, I put together a list of how I would shape the alignment of the league and some reasoning behind my choices.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic

Providence Bruins

Hartford Wolf Pack

Manchester Monarchs

Portland Pirates

Worcester Sharks

Northeast

Adirondack Flames (new)

Albany Devils

Springfield Falcons

Syracuse Crunch

Utica Comets

East

Binghamton Senators

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Hershey Bears

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (new)

Wilkes/Barre Scranton Penguins

I would incorporate Hartford into the Atlantic to make way for the departing St John’s, and change up the Northeast by including Utica and Syracuse from the East and West Divisions respectively as they are close rivals, just an hours drive apart. Another sensible decision in my view would be to include the Adirondack Flames in this Division.

The East would see old stalwarts Hershey, Binghamton and Wilkes/Barre welcome Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and with the reshuffling of the other Divisions, Bridgeport would join this party

Western Conference

North

Hamilton Bulldogs

Lake Erie Monsters

Rochester Americans

Toronto Marlies

St. Johns IceCaps

Midwest

Chicago Wolves

Grand Rapids Griffins

Iowa Wild

Milwaukee Admirals

Rockford Icehogs

West

Charlotte Checkers

Norfolk Admirals

Oklahoma City Barons

San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars

With the switching of Utica from the North, I’d include St. John’s in this Division, in what is looking like their last season in the AHL. It would be fitting if they would face more of the Toronto Marlies if that was the case and if the Winnipeg franchise were to end up in Thunder Bay then that wouldn’t be a terrible fit.

It make little sense to alter the Midwest, while the only change left would be unfortunately sliding the Norfolk Admirals into the West Division for the time being.

I say for the time being as there has been talking of making at least one proper West Division, which is something the AHL should have been proactive about before now and I shall allude to later.

What the AHL decided on is as shown on the graphic below.

NEW AHL

Changes from last season include:

  • Calgary’s affiliate (Adirondack Flames) relocating from Abbotsford, B.C., to Glens Falls, N.Y., and playing in the North Division
  • Philadelphia’s affiliate (Lehigh Valley Phantoms) relocating from Glens Falls, N.Y. to Allentown, Pa., and playing in the East Division
  •  Syracuse moving from the East Division to the Northeast Division
  •  Lake Erie moving from the North Division to the Midwest Division
  •  Iowa moving from the Midwest Division to the West Division

I give credit to the AHL for being responsible enough to place the two new teams in adequate divisions but I’m less enamoured by the moves placed on Lake Erie and Iowa, although I can see some sense to those.

The truth is that their needs to be bigger changes in the AHL landscape than those put in place for next season.

There has been talk for a little while of a “real” West Division for a little while now and this is perhaps going to come to fruition sooner than later.

As per http://www.MayorsManor.com, the Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks, are on board with the idea and possibly another two western teams.

There are rumours of the Los Angeles Kings moving their AHL affiliate to Ontario, California where their current ECHL team resides and is very successful in drawing a crowd.

Edmonton have just purchased their ECHL affiliate and possibly could follow the L.A route.

With markets like Houston (who deserve another team to support) and Seattle to consider there are plenty of choices and opportunities to explore.

With Vancouver’s and Calgary’s affiliates still out way to the east, the AHL still has a very lopsided look to it, although from a personal point of view, having a division comprising Calgary, Montreal, Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver’s affiliate’s is certainly intriguing.

I hope these are the first of many changes made in the next few years to make the league even better.

 

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