The American Hockey League Pacific Division was born this afternoon when the league formally announced that the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames will move their affiliates to California.
Expect all of these teams, the Bakersfield Condors, San Diego (whose name hasn’t been revealed), Stockton Grizzlies, San Jose (whose name also hasn’t been revealed), and Ontario Reign to visit the Cedar Park Center during the 2015-16 season. It also means some of the teams in upstate New York may be coming off the schedule.
“It’s still just a flight for us. Instead of the traveling to the Uticas and Rochesters (Texas) will have games in California,” Nill said. “As one of the closer teams (to California) it makes sense.”
In an odd setup, which hasn’t been officially announced, those California teams are expected to play less games than the rest of the league. Nill said Texas will still “stick with the norm” of the rest of the league and he’s stated before his desired schedule is “70 to 75 games” for development.
That likely means Texas will be in the AHL’s Central Division next year, coupled with the Interstate-35 rival San Antonio Rampage.
Speaking of the Rampage, the two teams (who happen to play tonight) could meet more frequently next season after the departure of the Oklahoma City Barons.
“That’s the biggest thing for Texas’ schedule, losing OKC,” Nill said. “But it’s also one really tough bus trip our players don’t have to make anymore.”
Texas and San Antonio will meet 12 times this season, it’s possible that number could climb to 16 or 18 games next season.
AHL Western movement has been whispered about for almost a decade before it picked up steam in the past 18 months.
“We knew this would be happening,” Nill said. “Especially with the CBA era we are in now, having your AHL team close is a huge advantage to save money on the salary cap.”