Go West, Young Man: AHL's New Pacific Division

Five teams are moving to California.

As John Hoven and Mayor's Manor have been reporting for the past year or so, the Manchester Monarchs are coming to California. And they're bringing their four closest friends with them. The American Hockey League announced today in their press conference that the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks will also be moving their respective minor league teams to California.

The press conference, held at the SAP Center up in San Jose, was short and sweet. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Doug Wilson confirmed that the Sharks will be moving their AHL team to San Jose and will also be playing at the SAP Center. The name is TBD at a later date.
  • Bob Murray, Best GM in the NHL (as voted on by his peers), called this an unbelievable day and quoted Teemu Selanne. He mentioned the luxury of being able to drive down the coast to see his minor league team play as opposed to having to fly cross country. He also talked about how hockey has grown in the state of California, especially at the bantam and midget levels.
  • Brad Treliving (Calgary GM) praised the city of Glen Falls for being great fans as well as other East Coast cities and thinks this will be crucial to development.
  • Kevin Lowe (Edmonton President) estimated that teams would save about 20-25 days of practice a year, which is huge.
  • Luc Robitaille said AHL players are now one phone call away from the NHL and also said Manchester was getting another hockey team./

There's definitely no denying the convenience that having the team's best prospects in the same time zone will bring. Los Angeles Kings fans are very fortunate that we will now be able to have these prospects in our own backyard.

Some tidbits from the post conference press meeting:

  • As has been mentioned, the Monarchs and Reign will swap places. The Ontario Reign will be LA's new AHL affiliate, with the Manchester Monarchs becoming the team's ECHL affiliate. Per Jon Rosen, the Monarchs will keep their current jerseys but the Reign will be getting new jerseys, which according to John Hoven, will be unveiled on February 11th.
  • Also according to Rosen, the Kings will retain ownership of the Manchester Monarchs and will now fully own the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Previously the Kemp family – Justin Kemp currently serves as the Reign’s president – had owned a portion of the Reign and managed day-to-day operations of the club. Darren Abbott, currently the Monarchs’ President / Governor, will become the President of the Reign while retaining his role as Governor with the Monarchs. Matt Welch, currently the Monarchs’ Executive Vice President, will take over the day-to-day command of business operations in Manchester.
  • Per Eric Stephens (Ducks beat writer), top contenders for the names are Gulls (hellz yes), Ducks (boo) or Admirals (whatever).
  • Per John Hoven, the Ducks will be holding a fan fest on February 22 at the San Diego arena from 12 PM - 3 PM.
  • The Flames' minor league team will now be in Stockton and will replace the Thunder.
  • The Oilers' minor league team will relocate from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Condors twitter account will now be the team's AHL twitter.
  • Since San Jose doesn't have a name for their team yet, the popular vote on Twitter was to name them the Seals. I am seriously all for this.
  • No word on how this flip will affect Winnipeg since they currently have a share (and a couple prospects) playing with the Reign.

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(For those who don't understand, the Ice Caps, Monarchs and Sharks are current division foes and they all have a pretty strong rivalry going with each other.)

More details are supposed to be released about the Monarchs tomorrow so stay tuned for additional coverage in the coming days and weeks.