A month ago Comets president Robert Esche registered “Utica Devils” as a trademark Previously, the Utica Devils were the New Jersey Devils affiliate of the NHL from 1987 to 1993
Shortly after, the Devils informed their AHL affiliate the Binghamton Devils that they would be moving the team. It didn’t take a big leap in deductive reasoning to figure out that their likely new location was in Utica.
This meant the Canucks would need a new location for their affiliate While they would have been happy with their arrangement at Utica, it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a permanent fix The trip between the two clubs was prohibitive , on the one hand, which made it difficult to call AHL prospects at any time Exacerbating the problem, Utica does not have an international airport
The Canucks needed an AHL branch closer to Vancouver, preferably in the same time zone, and preferably with an international airport to significantly facilitate flights to different NHL cities Maybe this might even be a city that has hosted an AHL team in the past, with an AHL-ready arena
Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini confirmed the team’s intention to move their AHL branch from Utica to Abbotsford on Tuesday
“As the momentum begins to take shape, we are happy to confirm our goal of bringing our AHL franchise and Canucks hopes home to the city of Abbotsford,” Aquilini said in a statement.”The move would provide significant opportunities for both our team and the community and it would open a new chapter, bringing Canucks hockey to even more fans in the Lower Mainland.””
Details of the agreement with the city of Abbotsford have yet to be finalized and the partnership agreement has yet to be approved by the AHL board of directors
Abbotsford previously hosted the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate known as the Abbotsford Heat It was a clunky arrangement, with branding, logos and jerseys that relied heavily on the Flames, resulting in made a tough sale for Canucks fans in the Fraser Valley
The city of Abbotsford also lost millions of taxpayer dollars over the Heat’s five years in Abbotsford, with a contract ensuring the city would make up for any shortfall in the team’s annual budget In total, the Heat cost the city more than $ 12 million
Abbotsford City has likely learned a lesson from this deal and is unlikely to sign such a favorable contract for the Canucks On the other hand, it may be easier to succeed for a team that boasts of having Canucks prospects just a short drive from Vancouver. Additionally, Canucks-branded merchandise would likely sell well to Canucks fans across the province.
The team will have a new name, brand and logo as per Canucks statement and will play in the AHL Pacific Division with teams in California, Arizona and Colorado This will mean more trips for the AHL team compared to the bus rides from Utica to their rivals in New York.
Vancouver Canucks, American Hockey League, Abbotsford, Utica Comets, Ice Hockey, Calgary Flames
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