Canucks Make it Official: Locate AHL Franchise in Utica

Thomas Drance
June 14 2013 12:22PM

 
Screencap of Laurence Gilman unveiling the new Utica Comets logo today.

After months of speculation, back room dealings, and legitimate concerns that the Canucks were going to have to shutter their newly acquired AHL franchise for the year, the Utica Comet were officially unveiled on Friday at a Press Conference in Utica, New York.

While the specifics of the deal between Robert Esche's group, the Canucks, and the city of Utica remain a mystery at this point, the dominant mood at the Press Conference was optimism. Laurence Gilman, Lorne Henning and Tom Sestito - a threesome henceforth to be known as "the brain trust" - were in attendance representing the Canucks, and Laurence Gilman spoke at the presser.  Read on past the jump.

Gilman described Utica as a "wonderful place to operate," adding that the Canucks were "thrilled beyond belief to be here." (I'd imagine they're also relieved beyond belief to have found a parking spot for their new American Hockey League property). Gilman promised that the club would work hard to deliver a winning product and deliver the Calder Cup to "Utica and the Mohawk Valley." 

Those are bold statements coming from the Assistant General Manager of an organization with an anemic pipeline of top-end prospects. Compounding that issue, the conventional wisdom is that the Canucks will find it difficult to attract veteran American Hockey League talent with a Utica affiliate due to substandard hockey facilities, and the tough travel burden that the Comets will face as a Western Conference team located in upstate New York. So the Canucks have their work cut out for them...

The Press Conference actually had some funny moments. Gilman described how he signed Robert Esche to his first pro-contract and three years later to his second, a deal which "made Robert a millionaire." "Now it's time for Robert to start sending that money my way," quipped Gilman.

When Gilman unveiled the new team name and logo, the press in attendance gave him a rousing round of applause to which Gilman responded with, "we should take some of you back to Vancouver."

There are obvious concerns about the club's affiliation with Utica. How long will it last? Is the travel burden going to leave the Canucks short-handed occassionally? Will the team be able to attract veteran AHL talent? But those questions can wait for another day, I suppose. For now the Canucks have managed to find an affiliate, and legitimate concerns aside, that has to be a big relief for the organization from a player deveopment standpoint. 

You can follow the Utica Comets on Twitter here.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Steve_May
June 14 2013, 12:38PM
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Did they leave Sestito there? Or was it more like a warning - mess up - and you're playing here buddy boy. I know he is a local.

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#3 KleptoKlown
June 14 2013, 01:27PM
Trash it!
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The Comets? Should have called the team the Utica Nucks

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#4 Origamirock
June 14 2013, 01:56PM
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According to this CBC news article, NY state is footing the bill for $5M of renovations for the arena. Not sure if that was one of the unknowns.

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/story/2013/06/14/sp-nhl-canucks-ahl-utica-devils.html

Also, they came out with that logo really quickly. I wonder if they already had it made before a deal was agreed to. From the picture it seems they took standard NHL Canucks jersies and put the Comets logo on the front. The neck flap things still even have the NHL logo.

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#5 Dez
June 14 2013, 10:46PM
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This sounds good

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