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The AHL Is Moving Five Teams to California - What Does This Mean For Detroit?

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Grand Rapids Griffins

SPRINGFIELD, MA -- Today at 3:30 pm, The AHL has announced five teams who will be relocated to the west coast. The teams being moved are all affiliates of the NHL's Wester Conference teams. All teams involved will be relocated to California to form a 'Pacific Division' effective as of the 2015-2016 regular season. This gives the involved NHL teams a much easier way to move players from the NHL to the AHL or vice versa without cross-continental travel. But what does that mean for the Detroit Red Wings and their affiliate in Grand Rapids?

As most of you know, Grand Rapids is a Western Conference AHL team. This creates a somewhat sticky situation in terms of travel. Most travel the Griffins do is by bus, so I imagine that will have to change with this move. In addition to that, if say, a player gets called up by Detroit in event of an injury or emergency, and the Griffins are on a road trip out west, the aforementioned player will be subjected to the overnight travel back to Detroit, or wherever the Red Wings might be at the time.

Take it for what you will, but this leaves Detroit in a rough spot with prospect call-ups, if this situation does in fact arise (we all know that it will eventually.) For example: If Johan Franzen goes down with an injury and all other players who would be available are either injured, or unavailable, Detroit needs to call a player up. If the Griffins are on the west coast, and Detroit is at home playing the next day, the AHL player will have to deal with overnight travel, and then possibly suit up for the game the next night.. Interesting to think about. Let's hear your thoughts on the matter.

Official AHL Press Release:

American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has formally and unanimously approved the steps necessary to create a Pacific Division within the AHL beginning with the 2015-16 season.

The Board has approved the following:

The Anaheim Ducks will purchase the Norfolk Admirals AHL franchise and will relocate it from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego, Calif.

The AHL franchise owned by the Calgary Flames will relocate from Glens Falls, N.Y., to Stockton, Calif.

The AHL franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers will relocate from Oklahoma City, Okla., to Bakersfield, Calif.

The AHL franchise owned by the Los Angeles Kings will relocate from Manchester, N.H., to Ontario, Calif.

The AHL franchise owned by the San Jose Sharks will relocate from Worcester, Mass., to San Jose, Calif.

Full division alignments and schedule formats for the 2015-16 season will be determined by the Board of Governors at a later date.

"Relocating five teams is a complex process, and we are very excited to have brought this initiative to a successful outcome," said Andrews. "The Western-based NHL clubs have been in dialogue with our league for almost three years, and today’s announcement launches a new era for the American Hockey League and for professional hockey in California."

"This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come," said Luc Robitaille, President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Kings. "I want to commend each of the participating clubs, along with Dave Andrews, Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, for their commitment, patience and willingness to work through a very challenging but worthwhile process in order to get to this day."

"The immense growth of the game of hockey in the state of California shows that hockey fans here love the game and they support it," said San Jose Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. "Having our top prospects playing on the same coast as our National Hockey League team will greatly enhance our ability to monitor and enhance their development. The creation of this Pacific Division of the American Hockey League has been a long time in the making and is the result of an immense amount of hard work by the AHL, the NHL and the five Pacific Division teams. We are extremely excited to have this division become a reality and we can’t wait for October 2015."

Formed in 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for players in all 30 National Hockey League organizations, as well as coaches, officials, executives, trainers and broadcasters throughout the NHL. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are graduates of the American Hockey League, and through the years the AHL has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.