Your guide to the AHL realignment 2015/16

The latest round of changes in the AHL have even the most devout followers of the league in a spin.

Brand new teams, changes of affiliations, switching the league format to four divisions and conference movement, has led to many being confused.

With this article I’ll look to break it down as simply as possible, with an explanation for each individual team and where, (if at all) they will be competing in 2015/16 along with any other details of note.

Albany Devils

A relatively easy one to begin with as the Devils will still be the affiliate of New Jersey and remain in the Eastern Conference. They’ll move from the North-East to the new North division and will be competing against some new foes in the process.

New Jersey Devils – Albany Devils (North Div/East Conf)

Adirondack Flames

The Calgary Flames affiliate will move after just one season as the Flames and will become the Stockton Heat, playing in the newly formed Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

The Calgary organisation acquired the Stockton Thunder ECHL team and will move them to Glen Falls, replacing the Adirondack Flames and they will now be called the Adirondack Thunder.

DEFUNCT: Becoming ECHL team Adirondack Thunder (Calgary Flames affiliate)

Binghamton Senators

The Binghamton Senators remain the affiliate of Ottawa and also stay in the Eastern Conference. They will be shifted into the North Division to compete with variety of different rivals than recent seasons.

Ottawa Senators – Binghamton Senators (North Div/East Conf)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The Sound Tigers continue to be the farm team of the New York Islanders, staying in the Eastern Conference but switching to the Atlantic Division. They will however keep their instate rivalry with Hartford, as they too make the switch.

New York Islanders – Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Charlotte Checkers

Will continue to operate as the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate and will still compete in the Western Conference. Geographically they are the hardest team to position in the league and with other’s switching it was no surprise to see them stay in the West and placed in the newly formed Central Division. The only change should be where the Checkers play their home games as it looks like they are returning to Bojangles’ Coliseum, a venue the team played at up until 2005.

Carolina Hurricanes – Charlotte Checkers (Central Div/West Conf)

Chicago Wolves

Very much like Charlotte, Chicago will remain in the Western Conference and be placed in the Central Division. Still affiliated with the St. Louis Blues, although this season will be the last of the three year agreement between them.

St. Louis Blues – Chicago Wolves (Central Div/West Conf)

Grand Rapids Griffins

The Griffins remain affiliates of the Detroit Red Wings. Staying in the Western Conference, they will join the new Central Division, losing rivals like the Toronto Marlies but will face off against the new Manitoba Moose.

Detroit Red Wings – Grand Rapids Griffins (Central Div/West Conf)

Hamilton Bulldogs

In a deal kept very quiet, the Hamilton Bulldogs will no longer be an AHL team.

The Montreal Canadiens have been affiliated with the Bulldogs since 2002 and bought the franchise from the owner, Michael Andlauer.

Montreal are moving the franchise to St. John’s, where they will become the new IceCaps, replacing the Winnipeg franchise which has now moved to Manitoba.

There will still be hockey in Hamilton as Andlauer purchased the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls and they will take resident at the First Ontario Centre, taking the Bulldogs name.

DEFUNCT: Becoming OHL(CHL) team Hamilton Bulldogs

Hartford Wolf Pack

After having their best season in ten years, Hartford’s re-alignment will barely cause a ripple of change.

They stay in the Eastern Conference and will line up against many familiar faces in the Atlantic Division.

New York Rangers – Hartford Wolf Pack (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Hershey Bears

The longest continuously operating member club in the league will be staying in the Eastern Conference and like Hartford will compete in the Atlantic Division.

Washington Capitals – Hershey Bears (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Iowa Wild

This two year old team will stay in the Western Conference but with a move to the Central Division, will be facing some new foes as only Charlotte follow them across.

Minnesota Wild – Iowa Wild (Central Div/West Conf)

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Lake Erie Monsters

It’ll be more of the same really for the Lake Erie Monsters as they stay put in the West and move to the Central Division where all the former Mid-West team will be competing.

However the Monsters will no longer be associated with the Colorado organisation and instead are now the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and shall be looking to break their four year playoff drought with a new multi-year agreement.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Lake Erie Monsters (Central Div/West Conf)

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Lehigh Valley will continue to the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate for the second year of their operation and stay in the Eastern Conference, switching from the defunct East to the Atlantic.

Philadelphia Flyers – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Manchester Monarchs

The Manchester Monarchs finished their 14-year AHL tenure as Calder Cup champions

The Los Angeles organisation will be switching their two affiliates and the Monarchs will now become an ECHL outfit.

DEFUNCT: Becoming ECHL team Manchester Monarchs (L.A Kings affiliate)

Milwaukee Admirals

Milwaukee will continue to the affiliate of the Nashville Predators, as they have been since 1998. The Admirals stay in the Western conference, switching to the Central Division

Nashville Predators – Milwaukee Admirals (Central Div/West Conf)

Norfolk Admirals

Three years after the winning the Calder Cup (Tampa’s affiliate at the time) Norfolk are being shipped out by the Anaheim Ducks to pastures new.

The Admirals will become the San Diego Gulls, while the Bakersfield Condors, formerly of the ECHL, will be moving to Norfolk, using the Norfolk Admirals name as the ECHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.

DEFUNCT: Becoming ECHL team Norfolk Admirals (Edmonton Oilers affiliate)

Oklahoma City Barons

There will be no hockey in Oklahoma as it stands, with the Edmonton Oilers relocating the Barons to Bakersfield to become a part of the Pacific Division. There are rumours of an ECHL team in Oklahoma (possibly the Blazers) but that wouldn’t be until 2016 at the earliest.

DEFUNCT:

Portland Pirates

Despite numerous unrest in the teams history, Portland will continue as the Pirates but they are no longer affiliated with Arizona (was Phoenix). In the merry-go round that entailed with the announcement of the new Pacific Division, the Florida organisation and Portland were left without dance partners and so the following collaboration entailed. In a deal that will last four seasons, this will be the fifth different NHL affiliation in Portland’s history.

Florida Panthers – Portland Pirates (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Providence Bruins

Same old, same old for Providence, who shall stay in the Atlantic Division and continue to be the affiliate of the Boston Bruins, as they have been since 1992.

Boston Bruins – Providence Bruins (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Rochester Americans

In a move that makes total sense, Rochester are amongst a host of teams switched to the Eastern Conference. The fourth oldest franchise in the AHL will continue to operate as Buffalo’s affiliate.

Buffalo Sabres – Rochester Americans (North Div/East Conf)

Rockford IceHogs

One of the newer franchises in the league ,Rockford will continue to operate in the West but switch to the Central Division. The IceHogs remain Chicago’s affiliate in what has been a profitable collaboration with many players making the step up to play a part in Chicago’s recent Stanley Cup victories.

Chicago Blackhawks – Rockford IceHogs (Central Division/West Conf)

St. John’s IceCaps

The Winnipeg Jets moved their affiliate from St. Johns to Manitoba in a not unexpected move except the final destination. What happened next was a surprise as the Montreal Canadiens, packed up and shipped their affiliate from Hamilton, Ontario to St. Johns for the next two seasons, where they will keep the original IceCaps name but with some colour changes to mirror the NHL club.

Montreal Canadiens – St. John’s IceCaps (North Div/East Conf)

San Antonio Rampage

The Rampage will be one of only two teams to play that last, that help make up the new Pacific Division.

San Antonio second’s stint at Florida’s farm team is officially over and a new affiliation with Colorado Avalanche will come into effect next season in a deal reported to be for five years.

Colorado Avalanche – San Antonio Rampage (Pacific Division/West Conf)

Springfield Falcons

Springfield will have the third different NHL affiliate in their history but yet again it’s not an ideal situation as regards to distance. Following an agreement with Columbus since 2010 (700 miles away), a new deal has been struck to become the farm team of the Arizona Coyotes for three seasons. The 2500 miles distance between the two teams is only bettered by the 3000 between Vancouver Canucks and Utica Comets. The Falcons will stay in the Eastern Conference but there could well be a new jersey design with Columbus having influenced the current one.

Arizona Coyotes – Springfield Falcons (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Syracuse Crunch

Syracuse will continue to operate as Tampa Bay’s affiliate for the fourth season after a short association with the Anaheim Ducks. The Crunch will remain in the East but face some brand new divisional opponents (switched from the WEST) in the north in the shape of Rochester, Toronto and Utica.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Syracuse Crunch (North Div/East Conf)

Texas Stars

The Stars will head to the new Pacific Division to join San Antonio Rampage as the only two existing teams from last season to make up the numbers. Other changes to come are some brand new logo’s and colour scheme’s to closely match their NHL affiliate (Dallas Stars) as now both organisations are owned by Tom Gaglardi.

Dallas Stars – Texas Stars (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Toronto Marlies

The Toronto Marlies have competed in the North Division since the teams inception in 2005 and will continue to do so following the switch to the Eastern Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Toronto Marlies (North Div/East Conf)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

The three-time Calder Cup finalists remain affiliated to the Pittsburgh Penguins. A no-brainer that they remain in the East and switched to the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Worcester Sharks

The Worcester Sharks are to be know more after San Jose moved their franchise to the new Pacific Division. Despite having a previous AHL team in the form of the Worcester IceCats from 1994-2005, there are currently no plans to host another hockey team of any level in Worcester.

DEFUNCT:

Utica Comets

The 2015 Calder Cup finalists will continue to be the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.

Utica will follow their fellow North Division rivals from 14/15 into the newly formed North Division, now placed in the East. Vancouver and Utica have the greatest distance between an NHL team and it’s affiliate (3000 miles).

Vancouver Canucks – Utica Comets (North Div/East Conf)

AHL 2015-16

The following six teams will be playing their inaugural AHL seasons.

Bakersfield Condors

The Edmonton Oilers purchased the Norfolk Admirals franchise and have moved it to Bakersfield to replace the ECHL incarnation of the team, keeping the Condors name however.

This will be the first time Bakersfield have hosted an AHL, having previously had twelve seasons in the ECHL and a WCHL team before that.

Edmonton Oilers – Bakersfield Condors (Pacific Div/West Conf)

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Manitoba Moose

It’s a welcome back to the Manitoba Moose, who were a part of the AHL from 2001-2011 as Vancouver’s affiliate. They are the only “new” team not to feature in the Pacific division but the Moose will be headed to the Western Conference. Home games will be played at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre for the foreseeable future. During their previous tenure, Manitoba made the Calder Finals once, but fell to Hershey in five games.

Winnipeg Jets – Manitoba Moose (Central Div/West Conf)

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Ontario Reign

The Los Angeles Kings are switching their two affiliates with the Manchester Monarchs AHL franchise now switching places and leagues with the Ontario Reign. It’s a straight swap as both teams will keep their original names but there will be logo and jersey changes. The Reign will continue to play at the Citizens Business Bank Arena and Calder Cup winning head coach Mike Stothers will still be in command.

Los Angeles Kings – Ontario Reign (Pacific Div/West Conf)

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San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls shall be the affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, with the NHL organisation having moved the franchise from Norfolk, Virginia. This will be the fifth occasion that the Gulls name has been used by a San Diego hockey team with the current WSHL team changing their names to Sabers for next season to accommodate the change. Home games will be played at the Valley View Casino Centre, built in 1966.

Anaheim Ducks – San Diego Gulls (Pacific Div/West Conf)

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San Jose Barracuda

After nine seasons in Worcester, San Jose have moved their AHL franchise closer to home, in fact much closer as the newly formed San Jose Barracuda will play home games in the SAP Centre, current residence of the Sharks. Roy Summer, head coach of the Worcester Sharks for the entirety of their history, will be taking the reigns of the Barracuda.

San Jose Sharks – San Jose Barracuda (Pacific Div/West Conf)

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Stockton Heat

Not even four months into Adirondack’s inaugural season as Calgary’s farm team, it was announced that the NHL organisation would be picking up sticks and moving the franchise to Stockton, California, replacing the ECHL team nicknamed Thunder. After a naming contest it was decided the team in Stockton would be called the Heat and they will play home games at the Stockton Arena, former home of the Thunder.

Calgary Flames – Stockton Heat (Pacific Div/West Conf)

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Below is an alphabetical list of all NHL teams with their AHL affiliates for next season, along with which division and conference they will be competing in.

I hope this is article is of some hope as we enter a new age of the American Hockey League.

Anaheim Ducks – San Diego Gulls (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Arizona Coyotes – Springfield Falcons (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Boston Bruins – Providence Bruins (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Buffalo Sabres – Rochester Americans (North Div/East Conf)

Calgary Flames – Stockton Heat (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Carolina Hurricanes – Charlotte Checkers (Central Div/West Conf)

Chicago Blackhawks – Rockford IceHogs (Central Division/West Conf)

Colorado Avalanche – San Antonio Rampage (Pacific Division/West Conf)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Lake Erie Monsters (Central Div/West Conf)

Dallas Stars – Texas Stars (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Detroit Red Wings – Grand Rapids Griffins (Central Div/West Conf)

Edmonton Oilers – Bakersfield Condors (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Florida Panthers – Portland Pirates (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Los Angeles Kings – Ontario Reign (Pacific Div/West Conf)

Minnesota Wild – Iowa Wild (Central Div/West Conf)

Montreal Canadiens – St. John’s IceCaps (North Div/East Conf)

Nashville Predators – Milwaukee Admirals (Central Div/West Conf)

New Jersey Devils – Albany Devils (North Div/East Conf)

New York Islanders – Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

New York Rangers – Hartford Wolf Pack (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Ottawa Senators – Binghamton Senators (North Div/East Conf)

Philadelphia Flyers – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Pittsburgh Penguins – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Tampa Bay Lightning – Syracuse Crunch (North Div/East Conf)

Toronto Maple Leafs – Toronto Marlies (North Div/East Conf)

San Jose Sharks – San Jose Barracuda (Pacific Div/West Conf)

St. Louis Blues – Chicago Wolves (Central Div/West Conf)

Vancouver Canucks – Utica Comets (North Div/East Conf)

Washington Capitals – Hershey Bears (Atlantic Div/East Conf)

Winnipeg Jets – Manitoba Moose (Central Div/West Conf)

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