I admit maybe I could have explained the franchise thing a bit more clearly in my previous post. Here's a summary of some overarching franchise concerns, given the questions that have been asked.
The AHL issues franchise licenses like any sports league. The franchise license gives you the right to have a team that plays in the league, just like a McDonald's franchise license gives you the right to operate a McDonald's restaurant. There are a set number of franchise licenses out there at any one time. The league can only expand the number of licenses during an official expansion. The league obviously controls the number of licenses very closely since it is not like a McDonald's in that too many franchises would dilute the league's quality.
Remember back when the Predators (1998), Thrashers (1999), Wild and Blue Jackets (2000) joined the NHL? All four of these teams started when the owner group petitioned to the NHL for a franchise license, the right to have a team that played in the NHL. These four teams were created by virtue of the league granting a brand new franchise license.
However, think back to when the Dallas Stars moved from Minnesota. The owner, Norm Green, had a franchise license to have a team in the NHL. After gaining approval of the NHL Board of Governors, he moved the team to a new city. This is the other way a "new" team can be created. Although really the franchise is the same as before.
The AHL tends to be more fluid than the NHL in terms of team movement from year to year. We just passed the halfway point of the season and there is already talk that the Albany River Rats will be moving to the Carolinas to be closer to their parent club, the Hurricanes.
The Texas Stars sought a franchise license before the season started. However, the Iowa Chops' financial trouble prevented them from buying one. The league made an exception in this specific case and allowed a temporary franchise license.
Currently, there are 29 teams in the league and two inactive teams. You may wonder why there are 31 teams and only 30 NHL teams. The Oilers are currently affiliated with the Springfield Falcons but also still have a franchise license for the inactive Road Runners. They do not own the Falcons; they are independently owned. The good news is that the numbers all shake out. There are 30 permanent franchise licenses and one temporary (Texas Stars). Two of them are inactive. Hopefully next year everyone will have a team in the AHL and we'll be back to 30 teams!
Please comment as you did before if there is anything that you are unsure about! Thanks for being active members of the Texas Stars community.