Our own J.D. Burke took a week off from the roundtable, which means they put me in charge! I wanted to ask what their favourite song off the Shrek soundtrack was, but apparently it has to be “relevant to the Canucks” or something. With the hot topic of AHL expansion coming up yet again, with the Coyotes relocating to Tuscon and apparently becoming the Roadrunners (which is just the best) the question was:
Whether they stay or go elsewhere, what do you see as the ideal situation for the Canucks to pursue once their agreement with Utica comes to a close?
Here’s what Canucks Army’s finest members came up with…..
I think staying in Utica makes sense – the shorter travel time compared to the west coast makes players lives easier, and they have a hugely supportive community there, which is far from a guarantee in a new city.
Although for the Canucks moving their AHL affiliate closer to Vancouver would make sense from a call-up perspective (provided the team was playing on the West Coast), the Utica Comets have been a resounding success as an AHL franchise. Like Dylan said, there is no guarantee that a team based closer to Vancouver would be anywhere near as successful as the Comets. Furthermore, although for those select few who get called up over the course of an NHL season it might be more convenient, for most of the Comets it would incur more travel and upheaval in their lives. Many local fans might be excited to see Canucks prospects up close – as they did when the Abbotsford Heat existed – but the benefits of keeping the team in Utica outweigh the benefits of moving it … for now.
I am not a big fan of change and considering that they brought hockey back to Utica, I don’t want to be the one that takes it away. Sure, having the team close to the big club would be great but they’re making it work on the east coast and they’ve already seen “great success” (Borat voice).
Ideal, obviously having them in Abby/Pac Coliseum/somewhere close would be ideal. East Coast travel as DK said is huge. It’s a shame the travel isn’t like that on the west coast….but I’d rather live here any day.
Maybe the Canucks can move to Utica and Vancouver can take the Comets?
I hate to be the guy that tells a wonderful fanbase like the one Utica has that their NHL affiliate ought not to renew their agreement, but I just don’t see how it makes sense in the long-term for the Canucks to have their AHL affiliate so far away from them. I’m of the opinion that you should leave no stone unturned when it comes to giving yourself a competitive advantage, and that includes making sure your minor league call-ups are well-rested. I think there’s definitely a market for an AHL team close to Vancouver, especially if their parent club is the Canucks. On a more selfish note, I’d love to be able to go see Canucks prospects in person and that’s a virtual impossibility as their affiliation is currently structured.
Ideally, you move the team closer to the west coast. In prior years, I’d agree with the fact the travel is better on the East so it makes more sense to keep them in Utica. However, with the new teams forming in California, and the AHL doing everything they can to ensure a competitive balance between them and the East, it frankly hurts the Canucks more not to have a team on the coast.
Perhaps somewhere like Seattle or Portland could be options if they don’t want to move them into beautiful BC. Portland has always been thought of as an untapped market, and as you’ve seen for the Portland Timbers MLS franchise they are great fans. The Portland Winterhawks are there, however, and they are quite popular which may hurt their chances. The same thing can be said about Seattle, as everyone knows NHL talks have been tied to there for a few years, but couldn’t get off the ground due to stadium snags. An AHL franchise could be more inclined to play out of KeyArena or the newly built ShoWare Center which houses the WHL Thunderbirds.
As for locally speaking, I’m interested to see how the Langley experiment plays out for the Giants. It’s been mentioned in the past that Giants ownership would be looking to build a new arena for the Giants if they desire, but if the Langley experiment works out for them, perhaps that could inspire an AHL move to Langley. Chilliwack (WHL) and Abbotsford (AHL) have both had teams in the past, but I worry they are too far out (and away from transit) to justify the move there, even with the draw of future Canucks on the ice.
In wrapping, a move to this side of the continent is a better move for the franchise.