American hockey league approves creation of Pacific Division

The American Hockey League (AHL) Board of Governors unanimously approved the decision to move forward with the creation of a Pacific Division for the league beginning with the 2015-16 season.

As part of the agreement, the following steps will take place prior to the start of next season:

• 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.

“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.”

For most NHL teams, their AHL affiliate is where they hone and grow the next level of talent. The league currently operates with an East/West Conference format, with each conference having three divisions. In the Eastern Conference, the divisions are the Atlantic, Northeast and East Divisions, while the Western Conference features the North, Midwest and West divisions. Each division has five teams.

“Relocating five teams is a complex process, and we are very excited to have brought this initiative to a successful outcome,” said AHL President and CEO David 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.”

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