Canucks ECHL Affiliate will cease operations at year end

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It was announced this morning that the Alaska Aces, the Canucks ECHL affiliate would cease operations at the conclusion of the season:

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.

  • apr

    I live in Victoria, and we used to have a ECHL team here. The Salmon Kings. Yah, I know. The biggest lost opportunity was when City Council jumped the gun and got a junior team instead of working with the Canucks to bring in the (what was then) the Moose to Victoria. I’d be a season ticket holder for sure if that had ever happened.

    • TheRealPB

      You do know that it includes the old WCHL and 14 teams in the west right? Of course it doesn’t help to be the team stuck out in Alaska (as I’m sure it’s not easy for the Newfoundland teams either).

  • Alaska Pride

    The Aces had huge success and have won three ECHL Championships since they joined from the WCHL. In the lockout years we had our Alaska-born NHLers play – Gomez, Dubinsky, Crabb, Thompson among others. There is a devoted fan base, 3,400 in a city of just under 300,000, but the decline of the oil-based economy has thrown Alaska into a deep recession since 2014 and the 1,500+ walk-up for home games has evaporated and sponsorships have dried up to the tune of over $1M (US) annually. The move of the California ECHL teams up to the “A” also killed us as natural rivals who were closer to Alaska left the league. In terms of the player experience (not level of play) the players who have been with the Aces say the experience they had is beyond compare. They fly to games (minimal extended bus rides) among other perks. It has been an honor to be the Canucks affiliate in our last year. Garteig is showing great promise, LaPlante is solid and Stewart has come a long way and is a gritty player. This is a sad development for hockey fans in Alaska as we are left with two struggling college teams and some very low level junior squads. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see pro hockey again in Anchorage but it has been an incredible run over the last 14 years! All the best to the Canucks and Canuck fans!