Around the League: Utica Comets a Puzzling Addition to AHL

New logo for the Comets
The American Hockey League announced Friday that the Utica Comets will be the newest team to join the league for the 2013-14 season. They will serve as the Canucks farm team, replacing the Peoria Rivermen in the league, who moved to the SPHL following the purchase of the team's franchise license by Vancouver.

Utica has had AHL hockey before. The Utica Devils came to town from 1987-93. (That franchise is now the Abbotsford Heat) Utica has a population of 62,235 according the most recent census. Their arena, the "Aud", seats just 4,000 for hockey. The Upstate New York market is just saturdated with teams; Syracuse is only an hour away. Also it will take (at best) 8.5 hours for prospects to make it from Utica to Vancouver's Airport. Finally, the big rumor is that the Comets will only call Utica home for one season...

So it didn't make a lot of sense. But then it did.

Puck Daddy summarized various reports over the past few days indicating that Seattle is under consideration as an out for the beleaguered Phoenix Coyotes. Part of this came out because the Canucks had asked to put their farm team there and were rebuffed.
"According to Elliotte Friedman, the Vancouver Canucks, who announced on Friday that their AHL team was moving to Utica, N.Y., originally had planned to put it in Seattle in KeyArena. Turns out, they were told "it was not available for hockey," reported Friedman."
That would have made a lot of sense for many parties. Obviously the Canucks and the Seattle AHL club would have had a close relationship. Seattle is closer to Vancouver than Dallas is to Cedar Park. That's always good. Seattle is also a major airport, which means prospects can get to anywhere in the US/Canada quickly when needed.

The other beneficiaries are the rest of the league, specifically the Western Conference. Abbotsford is out on an island very much in the AHL. Having a team in Seattle would have given them a close rival that they surely would have played at least ten times per season. It would also make things easier for all the Western teams that go to play them. Seattle and Abbotsford would be a solid one-two punch for teams. Instead of having to make a huge trek to British Columbia just to play Abbotsford in back-to-back nights, teams could play both clubs in the same trip.

But c'est la vie.

Here's your look around the league:
  • Elliotte Friedman notes that Glen Gulutzan is a possible candidate for the open AHL coaching position in Toronto. He could also be looked at for NHL assistant positions, including for the Rangers.  [CBC]
  • Oilers prospect Mark Arcobello has re-signed by Edmonton and is likely to stay in OKC. The converted winger scored a lot of goals against Texas this year. [Tend the Farm]
  • Also from Tend the Farm, it became official over the weekend that Kristians Pelss passed away in Riga, Latvia. [Tend the Farm]
  • The Fort Worth Brahmas, one of only two remaining Texas-based CHL teams, will be inactive for the coming season. The league, which once sported seven teams in Texas, is now down to just the Allen Americans in Texas and ten teams overall. How much longer is that league tenable? [CHL]
  • Finally, the Calder Cup Final rollercoaster ride continues tomorrow in Syracuse. After going up 3-0 and with two chances to close out the series at home, the Grand Rapids Griffins now head back to Syrcause with just a 3-2 lead. Oh boy... []