Thursday, July 11, 2013

AHL Re-Alignment Mess Puts Charlotte, Abbotsford in Same Division with Texas

(Credit: Texas Stars)
With the addition of the Utica Comets, departure of the Peoria Rivermen and the relocation of the Houston Aeros, it was inevitable that a little bit of divisional realignment was coming to the AHL this summer. What came out of it is a nasty mess for the Texas Stars, who find that their new division spans the entire North American continent and four time zones. Stretching just under 2300 miles by air east to west, Texas will face off with Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Abbotsford and Charlotte in the newly renamed 'West Division' in 2013-14.

This chain of events, that sees the Checkers starting away games against a divisional opponent at 10 PM local time and Abbotsford at 4 PM, was set into motion by the Canucks' purchase of the Peoria Rivermen. Their decision not to keep the team in Peoria and move them instead to Utica forced the AHL's hand here as they wanted to keep a 15/15 West to East split. Utica stayed in the West but needed a new division. They slide into the North Division, replacing Abbotsford, as Iowa moves into the Midwest to replace the now vacant spot previously held by Peoria.

The overall divisional alignment is pretty good. You have to ask, really, what other choice did the league have? There are a few teams that have good arguments to move East (Charlotte being tops on the list) and they've all got more tenure than Utica.

So where do you put Abbotsford? It's so much out on an island that it causes real travel headache for the whole conference. Earlier news that Peoria might have relocated to Seattle is now made doubly bitter as the Coyotes have stayed in Arizona. The potential failure of the arena deal in Glendale and subsequent likely move to Seattle was one reason why the move was blocked. Yes, Texas probably would have ended up in a division with the Seattle AHL team, but it would have made a little more sense. You could chain a few games together up there and the Heat and Seattle could play 12 games against each other with just a bus ride between them. The economics make more sense.

Of course, given that the Abbotsford club is guaranteed to break even using city money, who knows what sort of economic calculations went into this decision.

Here's the release with all the divisions:
American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, convening this week for its Annual Meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C., has approved the following division alignment for the 2013-14 AHL season (NHL affiliates in parentheses):

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Manchester Monarchs (LA)
Portland Pirates (PHX)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
St. John’s IceCaps (WPG)
Worcester Sharks (SJ)

Northeast Division
Adirondack Phantoms (PHI)
Albany Devils (NJ)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Springfield Falcons (CBJ)

East Division
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Norfolk Admirals (ANA)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

Western Conference
North Division
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL)
Lake Erie Monsters (COL)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)

Midwest Division
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

West Division
Abbotsford Heat (CGY)
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Oklahoma City Barons (EDM)
San Antonio Rampage (FLA)
Texas Stars (DAL)

The Stars, who are the reigning South Division Champions, will now add the Abbotsford Heat to their division alongside Charlotte, Oklahoma City and San Antonio and the division will be renamed the West Division. Other changes from last year’s alignment include Iowa being placed in the Midwest Division and Utica being slotted in the North Division.

The format for the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs was also approved by the Board of Governors, and remains the same as 2013: Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth. The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

The playing schedule for the 2013-14 regular season, which begins Oct. 4, will be announced later this summer.

2 comments:

  1. Why isn't Abbotsford in the "Midwest" division? At least those teams are physically closer to BC.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess the good news is that Texas is the all-time greatest South Division Western Conference team in AHL history.

    ReplyDelete

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