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Vancouver Canucks head East with AHL Affiliate

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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

Season

Farm Team

League

1970-1972 Rochester Americans AHL
1971-1974 Seattle Totems WHL
1974-1975 Seattle Totems CHL
1975-1978 Tulsa Oilers CHL
1978-1982 Dallas Black Hawks CHL
1982-1988 Fredericton Express AHL
1988-1993 Milwaukee Admirals IHL
1992-1994 Hamilton Canucks AHL
1994-2000 Syracuse Crunch AHL
2000-2001 Kansas City Blades IHL
2001-2011 Manitoba Moose AHL
2011-2013 Chicago Wolves AHL