It appears the Calgary Flames are set to move their farm team a little closer to home but farther away from the opposition.
According to the Calgary Herald, the Flames have taken steps to end their relationship with the ownership group in Quad Cities, Illinois at the end of the season and intend to sign a new 10-year affiliation with investors in Abbotsford, BC, a city 75 kilometres east of Vancouver.
“We intend to refile for relocation to Abbotsford,” Flames president Ken King told the Herald. “We’ve got a lot of critical, key prospects in our system, and we need a great home for them to prepare for the NHL.
“We’ve had substantial discussions with Abbotsford,” King added. “We’re in a situation where we’re completely comfortable with the terms of an arrangement. The move to Abbotsford requires approval of the American Hockey League board of governors, and there could be resistance from teams opposed to the travel.”
The move requires the approval of the AHL Board of Governors and, because Abbotsford is a 24-hour bus ride away from the nearest AHL stop in Winnipeg, King knows he may need to convince some that such a move is a good one.
“I don’t know if I would term it resistance, but I think they’re going to need to be convinced because of the geography”, King told the Herald. “They’re going to need to be convinced things like travel subsidies are nailed down.”
The ownership group in Abbotsford, lead by Lane Sweeting, is prepared to subsidize the travel costs for other AHL teams, which will have to fly out to the B.C. city.
“Most of the teams in the American Hockey League are on the east coast and for them to come all the way to the west coast, we definitely have to satisfy that,” Sweeting told Vancouver sports radio station, CKNW. “But we’re hopeful that’s the only hang up and I think we’ve got that taken care of.”
King too is confident it’s a good move for the organization.
“It’s a bold move. And I think it’s a smart move,” King told the newspaper. “It’s a Canadian market. They know hockey. They understand hockey. They appreciate hockey. And they’ve been years in the making. They’ve been courting us and other teams for a long time.”