It was announced this morning that the Alaska Aces, the Canucks ECHL affiliate would cease operations at the conclusion of the season:
— Doyle Woody (@JaromirBlagr) February 23, 2017
The decision was made due to mounting financial losses coupled with waning attendance.
This is the first year that the Canucks have been affiliated with the Aces, after using the Kalamazoo Wings for a few years. The change to the Aces was made as the ECHL passed a rule that would only allow on NHL parent club for each team. Since Tampa Bay was the official parent club of the Wings, the Canucks had to find another team for this season and settled on the Aces.
It is extremely unfortunate that the Aces will be ending their existence after 15 years in Alaska, but given the travel schedule and distance required, it’s not surprising. The closest team to the Aces was the Idaho Steelheads, who were over 2700 kilometres away.
At the moment, the Canucks have Michael Garteig, Yan Pavel Laplante and Mackenze Stewart in the ECHL.
If the Canucks choose to pursue another ECHL affiliate for next season, the only team without an official affiliate is the Fort Wayne Comets. All ECHL teams are on one year contracts with the AHL and NHL teams, so there could be some rotation as well, or another team is created in the Aces stead.