Glens Falls, Austin, and Abbotsford Join AHL

The American Hockey League announced on Wednesday that three new cities would be joining the league for the upcoming season.  The Quad City Flames are moving from the Quad Cities region to Abbotsford, British Columbia.  The Philadelphia Phantoms are moving to Glens Falls, NY.  The Dallas Stars have their wish with a new team in Austin, Texas.  All three cities will begin play in the upcoming 09/10 season.

All of this change brings up hopes that the divisions will be realigned to put the Rochester Americans back into the Eastern Conference and all of the New York teams (Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Glens Falls, and Binghamton) into the same division.

With two teams (Austin and Abbotsford) playing further West than Rochester and Syracuse, the idea does not seem that far fetched.  The topic won’t officially be discussed until this summer so any changes at this point are just a hope.

The only other issue that needs to be addressed other than division alignment is the schedule format.  Even if a division of New York teams is established it will still be frustrating if two teams play each other 12 times during a season.  The dedicated still go to games but one complaint I’ve heard from casual fans is, “everytime I look into going to a game they’re playing the same team.  Do they ever play anyone else?”

Here’s more details about the changes that were announced:

Abbotsford was awarded the relocation from Quad City with the assurance that they will be covering all travel costs for teams heading out that way.  Where is Abbotsford?  The city is in British Columbia and about as far West as you can get located an hour East of Vancouver, and two hours North of Seattle.  The options on the table for the Board of Governors was to either approve this move or the local ownership group for the Quad City Flames was going to suspend operations for the upcoming season.

The team that will begin play in Austin, TX was approved for limited membership conditioned on the fact that the ownership group of Hicks Cedar Park, LLC will purchase an AHL franchise within one year.

They will be the 31st franchise in the AHL, but the 30th active team in the upcoming season.  The Edmonton Oilers currently own the rights to a dormant franchise that many expect the Oilers to be activated for the 2010/2011 season in Oklahoma City.  The Oilers have stated that they will not be affiliated with the Springfield Falcons at the conclusion of the 09/10 season.

The league requires every team to be affiliated with an NHL team, if the Falcons are not able to find an affiliate it could lead to that franchise being sold to the Austin ownership group.  That’s speculation on my part.

The Board approved the transfer of ownership of the Philadelphia Phantoms franchise from Philadelphia Phantoms, LP, to a newly formed entity known as Phantoms Hockey LLC, owned by the Brooks Group. Subsequently, the Brooks Group was granted approval to relocate its AHL franchise from Philadelphia to Glens Falls, N.Y., beginning with the 2009-10 season.

The legendary venue known as The Spectrum in Philadelphia is being torn down which is what started this process.  Glens Falls is only considered a temporary home at this time while the Brooks Group reportedly tries to get a new arena built in Allentown, PA that they can call home.

That completes the 2009 edition of team relocations and activations!