As Dominik posted yesterday, the AHL announced that there will be a new Pacific Division starting with the 2015-2016 season. A total of five teams will be moved to the west to be closer to their parent teams. This will obviously make the transferring of players to and from the AHL much easier on these teams. The teams moving include:
The Norfolk Admirals (Anaheim Ducks)
The Norfolk, Virginia, based club is not actually owned by the Ducks, but they announced that they will purchase the club. They will be moving to San Diego, California, where they'll play in the Valley View Casino Center. San Diego had been without a hockey team since 2006. Norfolk had been affiliated with the Ducks since the 2012-2013 season and Edmonton's ECHL team will be moving into the Norfolk Scope Arena to fill the void.
This move along with the moves of the Stockton Thunder and Ontario Reign were approved by the ECHL board of governors today. Norfolk doesn't sound too happy about the deal as they went from being Calder Cup champions in 2012 to being demoted to the ECHL in a matter of three years.
The Adirondack Flames (Calgary Flames)
The Flames play in Glens Falls, New York, and are obviously owned by their eponymous NHL club. They've spent a grand total of one year in Adirondack after relocating from Abbotsford, British Columbia. They're headed to the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California, where the ECHL's Thunder currently play.
Calgary purchased it's ECHL affiliate which will move to the Adirondacks. They signed a three year lease with the Glens Falls Civic Center. Their current ECHL affiliate is the Colorado Eagles, who will remain in Colorado but will no longer have an affiliate. The Isles have had a handful of players to Colorado in the past.
The Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers)
The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based club had been owned by the Oilers since their inception in the 2011-2012 season. They're headed to the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California.
The Barons play in the Cox Convention Center which looks like it will remain empty as the club announced that it will fold at the end of this season. This news came back in December well before the move was announced. Bakersfield housed the ECHL's Condors who will be headed to Norfolk.
The Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings)
The Kings purchased their team located in Manchester, New Hampshire in 2000 and started play in the 2000-2001 season. They are headed to the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, which currently houses the Kings ECHL club. The Reign will be moving to Manchester to play in the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks)
The Sharks brought hockey to the DCU Arena in Worcester, Massachusetts, for the beginning of the 2006-2007 season. They will now be heading to the SAP Center in San Diego, California, which is the same building as their parent team. This leaves Worcester without any AHL or ECHL team next season. They are shopping for an AHL one, but it might not happen. Their ECHL affiliation will remain in Allen, Texas.
For an easier look at the different locations and how they will be affected, here's a table showing the changes:
|City||Old League||Old Affiliate||New League||New Affiliate|
|San Diego, CA||None||None||AHL||Ducks|
|Glens Falls, NY||AHL||Flames||ECHL||Flames|
|Oklahoma City, OK||AHL||Oilers||None||Out of Business|
|Worcester, MA||AHL||Sharks||None||Looking for Team|
|San Jose, CA||None||None||AHL||Sharks|
Impact on the Islanders
Obviously the biggest impact on the Islanders is that they'll be losing their ECHL affiliate in the Stockton Thunder. The Islanders had been affiliated with Stockton since the 2013-2014 season. here are still three ECHL clubs without any affiliates in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brampton, Ontario, Rapid City, South Dakota and Wichita, Kansas.
In addition to this, the Colorado Eagles (who play in Loveland, Colorado) will be losing their affiliation with the Flames. They could also just throw a team in Worcester. All of these are viable options, though call ups from Wichita might be a bit difficult as their transportation system is apparently a mess.
It should be noted that teams are not required to have an ECHL affiliation, though currently every team but the New Jersey Devils does. Teams can share affiliations if they so desire and ECHL teams can be unaffiliated. The Kings share their club with the Winnipeg Jets so the Jets could be looking for a new ECHL team as well, but nothing has been announced on that front.
There's also two open teams up for grabs as the Las Vegas Wranglers announced that they will withdraw their membership as they don't have a stadium. They were suspended last season when they weren't able to come up with a location in time for the schedule to be made. The league placed a cap on the number of teams at 30 and there's currently 28. The complete list of current ECHL/NHL affiliations can be found here.
In addition to losing their ECHL affiliate, the AHL divisions will obviously change which means new opponents for the Sound Tigers. While none of the teams were in the Sound Tigers division, the Admirals, Sharks, and Monarchs were all in the same conference which means Bridgeport will no longer play them.
The AHL has yet to announce the re-alignment, but logic dictates that those teams will switch to a different conference and the Sound Tigers won't be playing them any longer unless it's for the Calder Cup. Only time will tell what new opponents are in store for the club.