With the frequency that AHL teams change locales, I'm surprised that the AHL hasn't bought a moving company in order to reduce costs. If the AHL isn't interested in buying a moving company, perhaps the Calgary Flames are. The Flames have had their AHL franchise in Omaha, Nebraska and Moline, Illinois with little success, and now reports have them looking to move the Abbotsford Heat to a new location as setting up in the Vancouver Canucks' backyard has proven to be a money-losing venture.
There was no doubt that the Heat were fighting an uphill battle upon their founding. They play in Abbotsford, BC, putting them two timezones away from their nearest competition - the Manitoba Moose - at the time of their founding. With the Moose moving to St. John's upon the arrival of the Atlanta Thrashers as the new Winnipeg Jets, the Heat would find their closest AHL rival as the Milwaukee Admirals. The distance between those two cities? 3385 kilometers or 2103 miles!
Clearly, the west coast experiment for the AHL is dead. Attendance has never been great for the Flames-affiliated Heat as they play in rival Canucks country, and they sit as the 26th-best team in attendance this season. The travel is ridiculous, to put it mildly, and the team has not posted a money-earning season since it set up shop in the BC lower mainland. In short, this was a mistake.
So what do the Flames do? They issued a statement about a potential move that read,
We have been approached by representatives in Utica concerning an opportunity for the AHL. We understand they are building a case for the AHL to return there.Honestly, that's pretty ballsy when you consider that the Flames and Heat are in the third year of a ten-year commitment to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. You point out that Utica, New York has approached you, but are committed to Abbotsford? Why issue a statement at all? Why would the Flames be looking for trouble?
We are under contract and committed to Abbotsford, and have made no alternate commitments.
Well, this all seems to be a little "cart before the horse" hearsay. According to Utica Observer-Dispatch sports editor Matthew Becker via The Province's John Colebourn, there is nothing definite at this point for Utica in any way. "The mayor is knee-deep in the negotiations. and there is nothing definite yet," he said. "It is still in talks. We are not at the stage where a team is officially coming to Utica."
So with nothing happening on the moving front today, all eyes will be on the future of the Heat as the Flames seemingly continue to listen to offers. Personally, it might be smarter for the Canucks and Flames to trade affiliates, allowing the Canucks' prospects to play in Abbotsford while the Flames' prospects relocate to Chicago. In any case, the Flames-controlled Heat will remain for the foreseeable future in Abbotsford while Utica will try to entice some NHL team to invest in their city at some point. And the world continues to turn.
Speaking about spinning, if you missed the Adirondack Phantoms game on Sunday, consider yourself lucky due to the head-spinning uniforms they decided to wear for their match against the Binghamton Senators. Apparently, it was the birthday of Dax, their mascot, and they honored him as any minor-pro team would: they wore his face on their chests.
Yes, you read that correctly. Seriously.
I'll let Shaquille O'Neal describe these uniforms in terms of their graphical image.
I'm pretty sure that the Phantoms' 2-1 win was less about how they played and more about Binghamton being distracted by these horri-awful uniforms. I'd like to say that the post-game auction for these jerseys was good, but I'm not sure I want to inflict these uniforms on any fan, let alone an auction winner.
I'm pretty certain this is the first time I've ever seen a jersey dedicated to a mascot's birthday, so we can mark this as a first in professional hockey. It's not a proud moment for hockey, but it's a moment nonetheless. We'll just leave it at that.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!