Saturday, 9 June 2007

Some AHL House Cleaning

If you've been reading this blog in the last month, you'll know I have made mention of the AHL franchises that have relocated and joined the league. I assume that the moves and expansion of the AHL are now over for at least another season. The AHL officially published their new divisional and conference alignment on May 30, and there are some significant moves. The newly-founded Lake Erie Monsters join the North Division of the Western Conference. The Quad City Flames and Rockford IceHogs join the West Division of the Western Conference. The West Division will be the only division with eight teams. The other three divisions will still have seven teams per division.

In any case, here are the new divisional and conference alignments. The parent club of the AHL franchise is in parentheses.

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Lowell Devils (NJ)
Manchester Monarchs (LA)
Portland Pirates (ANA)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Falcons (EDM)
Worcester Sharks (SJ)

East Division
Albany River Rats (CAR)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Norfolk Admirals (TB)
Philadelphia Phantoms (PHI)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

Western Conference
North Division
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL)
Lake Erie Monsters (COL)
Manitoba Moose (VAN)
Rochester Americans (BUF/FLA)
Syracuse Crunch (CBJ)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)

West Division
Chicago Wolves (ATL)
Houston Aeros (MIN)
Iowa Stars (DAL)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Peoria Rivermen (STL)
Quad City Flames (CGY)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)
San Antonio Rampage (PHX)

The format for the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs will be determined at the league's Annual Meeting next month. I assume it will look similar to this season's format, but you never know what may happen.

In other news from the AHL, the Houston Aeros announced on May 29 that they have hired Kevin Constantine to be their new head coach. The former runner-up for the Jack Adams Trophy as the top coach in the NHL had spent the last four seasons as the head coach for the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Constantine, 48, has been behind the bench as a head coach for more than 1,000 combined games in the United States Hockey League (USHL), International Hockey League (IHL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL). In the NHL, he has a record of 159-153-66 beind the benches of San Jose, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. He les the Kansas City Blades of the IHL to the Turner Cup Championship in 1991-92 before being hired by the Sharks. He is the only coach in NHL history to lead two #8 seeds over the #1 seeds in NHL Playoff history. He led the 1993-94 Sharks to vitory over the Red Wings, and led the 1998-99 Penguins to victory over the Devils.

"A development team requires a leader who will teach the players the game, while at the same time instilling the discipline, accountability and hard work required to play in the NHL for this organization," Aeros general manager Tom Lynn said. "Kevin has a demonstrated record of all of these elements. In addition, he has had success coaching at all levels of hockey, and in particular in developing younger players."

I think the hiring of Kevin Constantine will prove to be an astute move by the Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros franchises. As Mr. Lynn said, Constantine is known for his hard-nosed, no-nonsense coaching style, and his leadership will help the young Aeros' players progress into solid NHL players.

Ok, so that should quench your thirst for a little more AHL knowledge. With the NHL Entry Draft coming up, AHL teams will certainly be readying themselves for an infusion of young talent. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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