OKC’s NBA D-League Team Named “Oklahoma City Blue”?

A new filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows a listing for the “Oklahoma City Blue”, filed this past week by the NBA Development League, LLC. This comes after the Oklahoma City Thunder announced earlier this summer that they would be moving their NBADL franchise from Tulsa to OKC this season.

The team formerly known as the Tulsa 66ers will share the Cox Convention Center with the Oklahoma City Barons. With 38 home games for the Barons, and 25 for the potential Blue, the Cox will be a busy place this season.

I’ll hold out my final opinion until the logo comes out, but the name is horribly plain. I’m not really sure where the connection with the city or the state is other than the Oklahoma flag is blue, the Thunder’s primary color is blue, and there’s a town in Oklahoma named Blue. But now we may get to add a basketball team to the list.

For The Oilers, There Is A Need For Armpit Sniffing

A year ago I was browsing the pages of everyone’s favorite UK newspaper, The Guardian, when I stumbled upon an incredible photo section. That particular day the photographer had the job of documenting some of the oddest jobs in the world. That’s where I met Betty Lyons.

At 88 years old, this home grown Ohian had spent the last 35 years in the offices of Hilltop Labs just outside of Cincinnati. As a life-long sufferer of various skin conditions and axilla ailments, Betty took it upon herself to give back to the world. For Betty, life was a great puzzle, a challenge, an obstacle-ridden journey – this pushed her to become a researcher for the labs for nearly 35 years.

Her job wasn’t significant in most circles, but to her it was the world. Simply put, one of Betty’s main directives was a “sniff tester”, mainly in armpits.

Measuring odors on the skin almost always starts with the armpit, and Betty was precise in her calculations. This is probably why she lasted so long. Each year she would be re-tested for odor acuity, and at the time the article was printed she was still the most “intense odor” detector of the bunch.

Betty is a unique breed. She has one job, and does it very well. We could all learn from this 80+ year old woman, and her various commitments to life. I think maybe the Edmonton Oilers need to groom a few armpit sniffers.

As we continue the cycle of farm play in Oklahoma City there are a few defensive candidates that would willing plug holes in the otherwise occasionally sinking ship in the NHL counterpart’s lineup. I’m not here to talk about that, but rather more about the make and mold that the Oilers certainly need.

There is a trend that has tappered just a bit in recent years, but it revolved around the term “puck moving defenseman”. I think the term began commonplace and thoughtful until it spun into something completely different. The term began as a harmless description for a defender who could make few mistakes with the puck, but more importantly move the game along quickly. It changed for many, and became a more offensive definition than a defensive one. Case in point, Justin Schultz.

At the time I write this, September is only a few days away and defensive RFA, Justin Schultz, has yet to re-sign with the Oilers. (Thanks to Marsha for this link; perhaps news is coming)

Schultz spent 34 games with the Oklahoma City Barons, had 48 points, and held on to the most points in the league by defenders until the final game of the AHL was played, and he still tied Oklahoma’s own, Matt Donovan. Amazing feat, really. Despite the awesome scoring curve, Schultz struggled, and in the areas that got overlooked. As a defensive prospect he was considered a puck mover. Was good on his skates, excellent handling and passing the puck, and very cautious with placement. I would even say his vision was relatively solid for a collegiate player. The one place he struggled? Defending his own net.

Geographically he was all over the ice, as his offensive stats will tell you. What we saw emerge was a really good puck mover who kept the play in front of him by virtually clinging to the puck. This allowed the possession numbers for OKC to be somewhat baffling. What came to fruition was the team as a whole began playing this way (Hall, Nuge, Eberle included), and a semi-successful AHL team came to be. Remember, they were front-loaded with NHL players, and promised to check-mate the league. They didn’t.

Let’s circle the wagons just a bit, and return to the puck moving defender. Todd Nelson has done an admirable job, almost unsung, in aiding the maturation of prospects. Martin Marincin was wiry as a barbed fence, but not nearly as prickly. Nelson threw him into game situations where he played big (against teams that are mighty stout – Grand Rapids, Texas, etc), and he emerged as a well-bruised soldier. He also earned some NHL playing time this season. Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, and even incoming defender Dillon Simpson have an opportunity to fit into the box the Oilers have check-marked. Try watching them do the one thing they are expected to do well, and that’s defend.

Like the muse of this story, Betty, sometimes we expect professional hockey defensemen to be many different things, but we ultimately forget they have one job (“One job, Phill” pun intended). In this case, that job is simply to defend their net. Now can they do more than that? Yes, and they should. However, start with square one, and that’s the responsibility of protection.

When October rolls around, and I start commenting on specific prospects, help me look for the one good thing in defenders. The ones that really defend well will be the ones worth futurecasting. Look for the armpit sniffers.

Footnote: Here is Betty Lyons at work via The Guardian

Oklahoma City Barons Schedule Breakdown

Here’s the Oklahoma City Barons schedule broken down with the matrix and some by the numbers at the end. Barons will play on what has become an annual New Year’s Eve game, taking on Charlotte this season. The Barons will take part in three morning games this season, one at home, plus two more on the road at San Antonio and Toronto. Without further adieu, enjoy.

Matrix
Charlotte – 12
November 21st @OKC
November 22nd @OKC
December 16th @CHA
December 18th @CHA
December 28th @OKC
December 31st @OKC
January 22nd @CHA
January 23rd @CHA
March 14th @OKC
March 15th @OKC
April 2nd @CHA
April 3rd @CHA

San Antonio – 12
October 11th @SA
October 18th @OKC
November 9th @SA
November 11th @OKC
November 18th @SA
November 29th @SA
December 27th @SA
February 7th @SA
February 27th @OKC
February 28th @OKC
March 20th @OKC
April 7th @OKC

Texas – 12
October 17th @OKC
October 24th @OKC
October 25th @TEX
October 29th @TEX
November 26th @TEX
November 28th @TEX
December 10th @TEX
January 6th @OKC
January 16th @OKC
January 17th @OKC
February 8th @TEX
February 24th @OKC

Iowa – 8
November 1st @OKC
November 2nd @OKC
November 14th @IOW
November 15th @IOW
February 15th @IOW
April 10th @IOW
April 17th @OKC
April 18th @OKC

Adirondack – 4
January 9th @ADK
February 20th @OKC
February 21st @OKC
March 28th @ADK

Chicago – 4
February 13th @CHI
March 21st @OKC
March 22nd @OKC
April 11th @CHI

Grand Rapids – 4
December 5th @GRG
December 12th @OKC
December 13th @OKC
March 4th @GRG

Lake Erie – 4
January 2nd @LKE
January 3rd @LKE
January 30th @OKC
January 31st @OKC

Milwaukee – 4
December 6th @MIL
March 8th @MIL
March 10th @OKC
March 17th @OKC

Rockford – 4
December 20th @OKC
December 21st @OKC
February 14th @RFD
March 6th @RFD

Hamilton – 2
January 11th @HAM
April 14th @OKC

Rochester – 2
January 10th @RCH
January 18th @OKC

Toronto – 2
November 8th @OKC
March 25th @TOR

Utica – 2
December 2nd @OKC
March 27th @UTI

Doesn’t play: Albany, Binghamton, Bridgeport, Hartford, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Manchester, Norfolk, Portland, Providence, Springfield, St. John’s, Syracuse, W-B/Scranton, Worcester.

Vs. East: 0
Vs. West: 76
Vs. Division: 44
Weekday games: 19
Friday games: 21
Saturday games: 25
Sunday games: 11
Before 7:00p (local time): 15
Longest road trip (games): 5 (twice)
Longest home stand (games): 7
Three-in-threes: 4

Wear (On You Computer) Your OKC Barons Schedule (Released Today) Proudly!

Welcome to the beginning of the beginning. The American Hockey League schedule is out, we can now exhale and begin our journeys. To get us there, we present to you the 2014-2015 Tend The Farm wallpaper schedule. Thanks to Candace Riley and her incredible photographic eye for the photos. You can see a sampling of photos from the first four seasons of Oklahoma City Barons hockey via Candace’s online portfolio. CLICK HERE

Enjoy the schedule. Use it wisely. And…GO BARONS!





Oklahoma City Barons 2014-2015 Schedule Released

By golly, here it is. The Oklahoma City Barons 2014-2015 schedule in all its unintended glory. You’ll notice a few things off the bat like the Texas-only month of October, and the ginormous homestand in March. Toronto early, Toronto late. Some team in Adirondack? ‘Tis true.

More conversation and general wonderment on the schedule to come, but for now, enjoy this awful cut and paste job.

Sat 10/11/14 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Fri 10/17/14 7:00 PM Texas
Sat 10/18/14 7:00 PM San Antonio
Fri 10/24/14 7:00 PM Texas
Sat 10/25/14 7:00 PM @ Texas
Wed 10/29/14 7:30 PM @ Texas
Sat 11/1/14 7:00 PM Iowa
Sun 11/2/14 4:00 PM Iowa
Sat 11/8/14 7:00 PM Toronto
Sun 11/9/14 4:00 PM @ San Antonio
Tue 11/11/14 10:35 AM San Antonio
Fri 11/14/14 7:00 PM @ Iowa
Sat 11/15/14 7:00 PM @ Iowa
Tue 11/18/14 10:30 AM @ San Antonio
Fri 11/21/14 7:00 PM Charlotte
Sat 11/22/14 7:00 PM Charlotte
Wed 11/26/14 7:30 PM @ Texas
Fri 11/28/14 7:30 PM @ Texas
Sat 11/29/14 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Tue 12/2/14 7:00 PM Utica
Fri 12/5/14 7:00 PM @ Grand Rapids
Sat 12/6/14 7:00 PM @ Milwaukee
Wed 12/10/14 7:30 PM @ Texas
Fri 12/12/14 7:00 PM Grand Rapids
Sat 12/13/14 7:00 PM Grand Rapids
Tue 12/16/14 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Thu 12/18/14 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Sat 12/20/14 7:00 PM Rockford
Sun 12/21/14 2:00 PM Rockford
Sat 12/27/14 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Sun 12/28/14 4:00 PM Charlotte
Wed 12/31/14 6:00 PM Charlotte
Fri 1/2/15 7:30 PM @ Lake Erie
Sat 1/3/15 7:00 PM @ Lake Erie
Tue 1/6/15 7:00 PM Texas
Fri 1/9/15 7:00 PM @ Adirondack
Sat 1/10/15 7:05 PM @ Rochester
Sun 1/11/15 3:00 PM @ Hamilton
Fri 1/16/15 7:00 PM Texas
Sat 1/17/15 7:00 PM Texas
Sun 1/18/15 4:00 PM Rochester
Thu 1/22/15 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Fri 1/23/15 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Fri 1/30/15 7:00 PM Lake Erie
Sat 1/31/15 7:00 PM Lake Erie
Sat 2/7/15 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Sun 2/8/15 5:00 PM @ Texas
Fri 2/13/15 7:00 PM @ Chicago
Sat 2/14/15 7:00 PM @ Rockford
Sun 2/15/15 4:00 PM @ Iowa
Fri 2/20/15 7:00 PM Adirondack
Sat 2/21/15 7:00 PM Adirondack
Tue 2/24/15 7:00 PM Texas
Fri 2/27/15 7:00 PM San Antonio
Sat 2/28/15 7:00 PM San Antonio
Wed 3/4/15 7:00 PM @ Grand Rapids
Fri 3/6/15 7:00 PM @ Rockford
Sun 3/8/15 4:00 PM @ Milwaukee
Tue 3/10/15 7:00 PM Milwaukee
Sat 3/14/15 7:00 PM Charlotte
Sun 3/15/15 4:00 PM Charlotte
Tue 3/17/15 7:00 PM Milwaukee
Fri 3/20/15 7:00 PM San Antonio
Sat 3/21/15 7:00 PM Chicago
Sun 3/22/15 4:00 PM Chicago
Wed 3/25/15 11:00 AM @ Toronto
Fri 3/27/15 7:00 PM @ Utica
Sat 3/28/15 7:00 PM @ Adirondack
Thu 4/2/15 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Fri 4/3/15 7:00 PM @ Charlotte
Tue 4/7/15 7:00 PM San Antonio
Fri 4/10/15 7:00 PM @ Iowa
Sat 4/11/15 7:00 PM @ Chicago
Tue 4/14/15 7:00 PM Hamilton
Fri 4/17/15 7:00 PM Iowa
Sat 4/18/15 7:00 PM Iowa

Tony Borgford, AHL GM’s, & League-Wide Consideration

Tony Borgford seems like a nice fella. Driven by a devotion to the game, the nuts and bolts of it all, the trendy-video-guy approach with a keen eye for diligence – he seems like a keeper. In a recent interview via the Oklahoma City Barons YouTube page, Borgford made several interesting statements that were both direct and ultimately telling in most regards. But before we dive into the quote round-up let’s explore what we already know.

Promoting Bill Scott to an Assistant GM role in Edmonton ushered in a day for the Oklahoma City Barons and the Oilers. The placement of a minor league manager was important to previous NHL org leaders in Edmonton, and it worked very well. Scott high-tailed himself into the daily routine of the OKC Barons, worked alongside the coaching staff, watched, listened, and carefully examined potential signings. His strength wasn’t in managing high drafted prospects or overseas acquisitions, but rather in his ability to find exactly what the team needed at all the right times. Mark the Arcobello being the largest and most successful-to-date find. This worked well in the first seasons of farm play in Oklahoma City. But things changed, and last season we watched a very young team struggle to find their legs, and Scott unable to steady the ship as he had before. Oh he was capable, and likely willing, but the prospect culture emerged (as it should have), and his managerial skills were less about looking outside, and more about finding inside.

Fast forward to this offseason and the hiring of Tony Borgford. We (myself included) assumed that he would be a direct replacement for Rocky Thompson whom, by the way, was a video-analyzer extraordinaire. Borgford is of the same make and model, and thus we assumed his role would be identical to Thompson’s (who was promoted to a video assistant job in Edmonton). This was good news, but Borgford appears to be doing quite a bit more than just watching a flat-screen monitor before, during and after games (and I realize he does more than that, in case you were wondering).

In his recent interview (seen below) he was asked about his role, and he has seemingly expanded his job description to include hockey ops which was 1/2 of Bill Scott’s job while with the Barons. Plane tickets, per diem, travel arrangements, off-ice paperwork filing, and other operational jobs have been floated his way. Basically “all of the administrative work that Bill Scott handled,” to put it in Borgford’s direct terms.

This highlights the changing of the guard, so to speak, in how the NHL Oilers approach their minor league farm team. This is the right move.

When you look at AHL General Managing around the US and Canada, you notice four approaches, one being the most prominent.

The AHL Head Coach/GM is a rarity, but it exists, and it it a throwback to days gone by. In Portland, for example, Ray Edwards serves as GM and Coach, and has done a pretty good job. Again, this is a rare setup but one that does occur.

The next approach is exactly what the Oklahoma City Barons have had for their entire existence. That is a dedicated AHL GM. Like the HC/GM combo, the AHL-only GM is rare. In a place like Hershey, for example, the President of the team is also the GM. This is mainly a result of the independently owned status of the team. Nonetheless, this seems to be a dying breed, and thus an unwanted approach.

The first two are a fraction of the population, but the next two approaches seem to make up the vast majority of the league.

The third approach is the AHL/NHL General Manger in one. In a place like Rochester, Toronto, or Grand Rapids, where proximity to the NHL club isn’t an issue, this tends to be a popular choice. But keep in mind, the NHL GM is likely passing the AHL managing off to an assistant, but with some major oversight. That brings us to the fourth and final approach.

Most AHL managers are considered (and given titles) like “Assistant General Manager”. Considered a part of the NHL coaching rotation, but strategically assigned to the farm team. These are often places where future major league managers are groomed.

Through the re-structuring of the coaching hierarchy in Edmonton, Bill Scott has been named the Assistant General Manager in Edmonton, his day-to-day Barons activities have been passed to new assistant, Tony Borgford, and the Oilers have officially joined the rest of the league.

There is no statement, no press release, or direct source that confirms that Bill Scott will continue to have a hand in managing the Oklahoma City Barons, but I would say that there is a really good chance his days of managing a minor league team is far from over.

Welcome to 2014, Edmonton Oilers. Godspeed.

Sundogs and Cutthroats go the way of the Dodo

If you haven’t heard by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock, but the Arizona Sundogs and the Denver Cutthroats have both announced their dormancy for this upcoming Central Hockey League season. The move brings back a few memories of the Oklahoma City Blazers before their demise, with team and league officials all saying that they were going to play this season, up until the final bell.

Rumors first started on Tuesday night, after the Denver Cutthroats staff was told they were being laid off. The team and the league made their move official on Wednesday, with rumors that the Arizona Sundogs were very close to doing the same. After an entire day of back and between the Sundogs staying or going, the Arizona players were notified late Wednesday, and made official on Thursday.

This brings about an interesting situation for the Central Hockey League as they now find themselves with only seven teams this season. With the two western-most teams now dormant, the league spans from South Dakota, to Texas, to Ontario. Quite the large span, and one that I don’t see lasting too long. Some mentions have been made that it’s quite possible a third team goes dormant, but nothing substantial as of yet.

So how did we arrive here? Last year, both the Allen Americans and Rapid City Rush were accepted into the ECHL, and were ready to join the league. The CHL filed a lawsuit against the two teams and prevented that from happening, keeping them within the CHL. The Allen ownership group later sold the team to the current owners of the Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder (yes, three teams for one owner in a now-seven team league), while the league was sold to a group of the owners.

With rumors earlier this summer of the CHL “merging” with the ECHL, and word that they were still going on up until this last week, one has to think that the teams folding is in response to the vote not going the way they want. If enough teams go dormant, and prevents the league from playing, it’s possible this could be an effort to force the league to fold, leaving the teams free to join the ECHL, or free up the markets to join the AHL, as has been rumored to be the case in both Denver and Arizona.

Needless to say, the minor league landscape is changing in a big way.

OKC Barons Unveil “New” Third Jersey, It’s Old School Oil

Orange you glad that you visited the blog today? Puns aside, the Oklahoma City Barons unveiled the newest “third” jersey that will be worn during the 2014-2015 season. During the 2013-2014 campaign one of the most popular jerseys quickly became the limited edition Special Olympics Barons Buddies sweater that would eventually be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Details of that bid are found here.

This most likely fazes out the road copper and navy (one that I really like), and places the emphasis more on the orange and blue scheme. This feels like the jersey the team wanted all along. One side note here, I prefer the oil drop logo over the main Barons logo/crest that is featured on this new third. Just a preference.

This jersey is oddly familiar, especially if you are a gray-bearded Oilers fan (or simply a die hard fan). The WHA Oilers sported a primarily orange sweater in days gone by, and there has been much the twitter outcry to have something similar return. Thus the sale of this particular Barons jersey will likely be substantial (my pocketbook just cringed while nestled on my buttocks).

So…what do you think? Yes, no, ABSOLUTELY YES?

Predicting The Oklahoma City Barons October Roster

You feel that? Yes, that’s the swelter my friends. Congratulations, Oklahoma, you have reached the early portions of August, and the summer hasn’t been all that awful…until now. Where your first thought in the morning is “Do I wear an undershirt today?”, “Do I pack a change of clothes?”, and “Will overtime hours cover my A/C bills or will I need to sell a kidney?”

Per Europe, “It’s the final countdownnnnn”, yet unlike Europe we actually know what we are counting down to (specifically), and it’s hockey season in OKC, and the tolerable temperatures that go along with it. But before we get there we need to evaluate contracts, positions, and the whosits and whatsits of roster placement. I’ve thrown darts against the wall, and here is my October roster in Oklahoma City.

[one_third]
Left Wing

Ryan Hamilton
Curtis Hamilon
Mitch Moroz
Kale Kessy
[/one_third]

[one_third]
Center

Jason Williams
Jujhar Khaira
Bogdan Yakimov
Travis Ewanyk
Will Acton
[/one_third]

[one_third_last]
Right Wing

Tyler Pitlick
Andrew Miller
Matt Ford
Iiro Pakarinen
Mitch Holmberg
[/one_third_last]

 


 

Amazing, isn’t it? That Curtis Hamilton is still nestled into an Oilers org left wing. That Tyler Pitlick is most likely to be named a top right winger on the farm. That we finally get to see the pro minutes of Moroz. It really is all kinds of exciting and stuff, especially offensively.

You will notice a couple of omissions from the list. Let’s start with the twins, Connor and Kellen Jones. They play so well together, and although one was drafted by the Oilers and the other was not, I fully believe that organizationally they want these two players together. We watched them play separately at least one game on their try out contract last year, and it was an awful experiment. That could be a result of always playing together, in which case maybe the Oilers pull them apart for a while to get a good individual looksee. However, in October I think they’ll ship them both to Bakersfield. Add to that list Josh Winquist who could really be a good players in the ECHL, and perhaps emerge to the AHL when needed.

You will also notice that Steve Pinizzotto, and Anton Lander are absent from the list. The lack of bottom center strength might force them to keep Lander in the NHL where he can apply his swiss-army-knife approach to major league minutes. And Pinizzotto is the gruff/grit/grime player that might compliment (er, what a word) a bottom threesome in the NHL. Egads, October in the NHL will be fun(ny).

The real battle for ice time on the farm will come at the center position. Acton and Williamson add some “older” mojo down the middle, but the contest between Yakimov and Khaira is going to be pretty heated. Ewanyk can own the checking line center position like very few. Thus these are some things to keep an eye on.

Defensively I think things are a bit more cut and dry, but let’s explore the possibilities.

[one_half]
Left Defense

Oscar Klefbom
Brandon Davidson
David Musil
Jordan Oesterle
[/one_half]

[one_half_last]
Right Defense

Brad Hunt
Martin Gernat
Dillon Simpson
[/one_half_last]

 


 

The two omissions are both AHL contracted players, and will probably pull down big minutes in the ECHL. I’m, of course, speaking of Graeme Craig and C.J. Ludwig. Because the Klefbom’s, Davidson’s, and Musil’s of the world are so high on the list of “prospects to watch” within the Oilers organization, you can’t imagine they drop much lower than they did last season. They shouldn’t. The only newcomers to the list are Oesterle (who did lace up 4 games, scored a goal, looked lost briefly) and Dillon Simpson. Both will have protected minutes. I like Brad Hunt too, and his consistency coupled with another year of play as a Baron, and he just might continue to turn some heads. I also think this is a big year for Klefbom who is the most likely to earn NHL ice time in a call-up situation.

Martin Marincin was probably earned a shot with the Oilers, and we might have to wait and see just how Eakins mangled together a defensive lineup to really make a judgement call. In the end, Marty is a really good prospect, maybe the best the Oilers had last season on the blue line, and so things could go really well for the stringbean.

The footnote here is goaltending, which this site has covered before. Richard Bachman and Laurent Brossoit are your tandem, no doubt about that. Bachman the vet, Brossoit the prospect, and a set of two that seems formulaic since the Barons emerged over four years ago.

That leaves Bunz, Tuohimma, Rimmer to toil elsewhere. With Bachman the #1 on the farm, and Brossoit #2, look for Bunz to be the #3 who plays minutes in the ECHL. He just might have a bit left in the tank, but he’s running on fumes. In summation, this is a really wide-open roster in terms of what they can accomplish.

Taking the team’s temperature in August is absolutely ludicrous to consider simply because so many offensive prospects exist here that are as green as the hatch chile I just ate. Thus I find them wildly intriguing.

Futurecasting just a bit, this team will struggle for about a month, surge towards Christmas, and steady post New Years. I think they put together good defense despite their dreadful start in 2013. Watch closely, this team will impress.

 

Minor League Shakeup: Where We Really Are Right Now

Over the past few days, there have been some articles laying out the author’s ideas for what they think would be a fine plan to make this minor league relocation/shakeup thing work. However, some of it doesn’t make sense, some of it can’t or won’t happen, but there are a few good ideas. The only problem is, most people aren’t very well versed on the happenings in the minor leagues. Here’s my attempt at trying to set some things straight, fill people in on what’s being said, and hopefully we can go from there.

The AHL West

Yes, people within the AHL have stated that there is an effort to move multiple franchises to the west in an effort to bring them closer to their NHL affiliates. There has been no word on exactly which teams are involved, or where they will be moving to. All of those so far have been rumors. There are eight Western NHL teams that do own their AHL franchises, of which are Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg.

Early rumors stated that five teams were looking at moving their affiliations west, but more recent numbers have stated greater than that, but I have a hard time seeing many more than five or six moving west.

-Winnipeg is moving their franchise currently in St. John’s to Thunder Bay, Ontario in the upcoming seasons.
-Both Calgary and Vancouver moved their franchises to New York in the past couple years, but there has been word of out-clauses in their leases after so many seasons.
-The Dallas Stars just recently purchased the Texas Stars, and they don’t seem to be leaving the Lone Star State anytime soon.
-Minnesota recently moved their franchise to Des Moines, Iowa.
-The Oklahoma City Barons are already in the West, but the Oilers recently purchased the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL, (SPECULATION ALERT) thought to be a move in securing a west coast market.
-The LA Kings own the Manchester Monarchs (New Hampshire). They also have an ownership stake in the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.
-The San Jose Sharks own the Worcester Sharks (Massachusetts).

FYI: The other NHL-owned AHL franchises are owned by the New York Rangers (Hartford), New York Islanders (Bridgeport), New Jersey (Albany), Buffalo (Rochester), Pittsburgh (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), and Toronto (Toronto Marlies). The Hamilton Bulldogs are partly-owned by the Montreal Canadiens.

ECHL/CHL Merger

There’s not a whole lot known about this right now. The ECHL is set to begin next season as a 21-team league, and this season will introduce a re-aligned Western Conference that includes teams in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Las Vegas is on a suspended status.

The Central Hockey League is currently a nine-team league, with one team in Brampton, Ontario, a clear outlying team compared to their counterparts in Midwestern states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

The predominant RUMOR in this situation is that the CHL ends up ceasing operations, with it’s franchises being absorbed into the ECHL. But again, not really a lot to go off of yet in this situation, and who knows where it could ultimately lead.

The Speculation

The biggest points of speculation in all of this is:

-The western markets in the ECHL and CHL will become AHL markets, with AHL franchises moving westward. There’s a lot of markets to choose from, and no real word on which ones they could be. Big money in the rumor mill is on all three California markets, Arizona, and quite possibly Las Vegas.

-The ECHL franchises that were replaced by AHL teams head east, and ultimately take over the markets that the AHL teams left. However, (SPECULATION ALERT) this also leaves open the possibility of other AHL teams taking over what could be seen as a more desirable AHL market.

Conclusion

-The biggest hangup in all of this could tie into what I mentioned earlier in the post, in that only about half of the AHL is owned by NHL teams. In order for a team like the Coyotes or Ducks to move their affiliation westward, they would have to purchase an AHL franchise or convince an independent owner to move.

-The one absolute truth in all of this? There are a lot of moving parts, and things change in an instant. It’ll happen when it happens, and until then, my advice is to take everything with a grain of salt.