Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Around the league 4/14

There are a lot of people who are keenly interested in what will happen to minor league hockey in Glens Falls after the Phantoms leave after next season, so here's something to keep an eye on: The Vancouver Canucks have formally told the Peoria Civic Center that they won't be keeping their AHL team there next season, according to a report from Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal-Star.

The Journal-Star report notes that the Canucks, who bought the Peoria Riverman franchise from the St. Louis Blues earlier this year, wants to move its AHL team to Abbotsford, British Columbia, a city that's about an hour inland from Vancouver. However, the Calgary Flames have six years remaining on a lease in Abbotsford and are unwilling to relocate their franchise, according to the Journal-Star.

The Journal-Star reported Monday was the deadline for National Hockey League teams to inform the AHL where they plan to locate their farm teams next season, and the Vancouver Sun reported that the AHL gave the Canucks a 30-day extension to decide what to do with the Rivermen franchise. An AHL spokesman did not immediately return a request for confirmation on either of those points.

However, sources told Eminian that the Canucks were likely to keep the Rivermen franchise dormant next season and simply loan its prospects to another AHL team. The loaning option, while not ideal for prospect development, was relatively common when the AHL had fewer than 30 active teams.

That whole situation is still murky, but another item of note is a certainty: The Hartford Wolf Pack will be returning to the AHL for the 2013-14 season. The team that calls the XL Center home had been named the Connecticut Whale for a little more than two seasons, but will be reverting to its original name now that Global Spectrum will be running the building and non-hockey operations of the team.

The team changed its name after Howard Baldwin, who was instrumental in bringing the World Hockey Association's New England Whalers to the NHL, where they became the Hartford Whalers, assumed control of the AHL team in 2010 as part of his plan to bring the NHL back to Connecticut.

The Rangers have since severed their relationship with Baldwin.

Peoria is poised to join the SPHL next season, the Journal-Star reported.

Finally, former Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert has signed a three-year extension to remain coach of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit. He was the Canadian junior hockey league's coach of the year in 2011-12.


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