Vancouver Canucks head East with AHL Affiliate
Canucks Sports & Entertainment announced Friday June 14th, a new affiliation agreement for an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise in Utica, New York.
The organization will be known as the Utica Comets and will play at the Utica Memorial Auditorium under the management of Mohawk Valley Garden (MVG), beginning in the 2013-14 season.
MVG is led by former NHL goaltender Robert Esche and long-time AHL owner and executive Frank DuRoss.
“We look forward to a new AHL affiliation and the development of our prospects in Utica, New York,” said Canucks President and General Manager Michael D. Gillis. “There was a strong interest in bringing an AHL team back to Utica and a real commitment to provide a positive environment for the growth and success of players in the Canucks system.”
For the first time their AHL team will sport the colors of their affiliate NHL team, blue, white and green.
The new team is quite the buzz in Utica, having already sold “more than 500 season ticket” as of Saturday. It is very clear the market is in the right place for hockey fans. But not the right place for most Canuck fan. Many fans voiced their disapproval on various social media sites quickly following Friday’s announcement. Most simply feel the AHL team should be a little closer to home in Abbotsford.
What does this change mean for the NHL team? Well most importantly east coast west coast travel time, as the Canucks have been know to move many players from the AHL to the NHL at the drop of a hat during the regular season.
Will this be the last move for the Canucks AHL team? Only time will tell, but for now it is safe to say Utica is happy to have hockey back, if only for one more year.
The city of Utica has a history with the American Hockey League. From 1987 to 1993, they housed the Utica Devils, the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. It is also the former home of the Mohawk Valley Stars (Atlantic Coast Hockey League), the Utica Bulldogs (United Hockey League), Utica Blizzard (United Hockey League), Mohawk Valley Prowlers (United Hockey League) and the Mohawk Valley IceCats (North Eastern Hockey League).
CANUCKS MINOR LEAGUE AFFILIATION HISTORY
|1978-1982||Dallas Black Hawks||CHL|
|2000-2001||Kansas City Blades||IHL|