Human cost of hockey realignment

The American Hockey League has gone through the biggest realignment in 15 years due to the formation of a new Pacific Division.

It’s a move that hasn’t pleased everyone, especially with the contrived schedule due to be employed from this upcoming season.

What’s been slightly lost in all the upheaval is the human cost factor.
Now I’m not fool enough not to believe that hockey players are at the end of the day commodities to the teams they sign a contract with. Deals and trades are made, and the result is players have to up-sticks in the middle of a season, perhaps to the other end of the country, possibly away from a place they’ve made home for a long time and from their nearest and dearest.

What’s different on this occasion is the sheer level of upheaval and the distances involved.
In all, eleven rosters will have to uproot in preparation for next season.

The merry-go round begins with a four NHL teams involved in swapping affiliations.

  • Colorado’s players head from Lake Erie to San Antonio (1400 miles).
  • Florida’s from San Antonio to Portland (2100 miles).
  • Arizona’s from Portland to Springfield Falcons (190 miles).
  • Columbus from Springfield to Lake Erie (500 miles).

Those latter two of those listed are by far the shortest distances involved as the next batch of relocations will show.

  • Adirondack Flames to Stockton Heat:
    Glens Falls, NY, USA to Stockton, CA, USA is 2900 miles.
  • Hamilton Bulldogs to St. John’s IceCaps:
    Hamilton, ON, Canada to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada is 1490 miles.
  • Manchester Monarchs to Ontario Reign:
    Manchester, NH, USA to Ontario, CA, USA is 3000 miles.
  • Norfolk Admirals to San Diego Gulls:
    Norfolk, VA, USA To San Diego, CA, USA is 2700 miles.
  • Okalahoma City Barons to Bakersfield Condors:
    Oklahoma City, OK, USA to Bakersfield, CA, USA is 1300 miles.
  • St. John’s IceCaps to Manitoba Moose:
    St John’s, NL to Winnipeg, MB, Canada is 2670 miles.
  • Worcester Sharks to San Jose Sharks:
    Worcester, MA, USA to San Jose, CA, USA is 3000 miles.

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Travelling from one end of the country to the other brings about different problems from the norm like a new climate to deal with, or, especially relevant to those travelling West Coast, a more expensive place to live but on the same salary as before. That’s without the concern players with young families must have.
There are a million different issues you just don’t think about until being put in that position.

It isn’t just the players though who have to deal with this. There are forgotten members of a team like hockey operations, of which there can be as many as ten members.
If a team is moving it’s front office as well, that can be upto another 15 people on top.

There are also job losses with people choosing not to move with their former teams or being told they aren’t required moving forward.

Also those who shouldn’t be forgotten are the fans who no longer have a team to cheer for.
In the overall scheme it maybe a selfish point of view from those in the stands, but hockey teams are often a vital part of a community and an outlet for a lot of people in so many different ways.

A hockey team moving on from a location doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it often has far reaching human implications that just aren’t thought about by the average Joe.

Imagine the fall out when eleven teams take that path.

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