On Friday morning, the American Hockey League announced its schedule – with the exception of its Canadian Division. The schedule called for the Stockton Heat to play in California and compete in the Pacific Division.
So folks were understandably confused when TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Twitter that maybe the Heat could be playing in Calgary instead.
Strong chance the Stockton Heat play in Calgary this AHL season. Needs provincial approval, but health officials in California aren’t able to sign off on the Heat playing in their county. If Alberta clears, the Heat are likely sharing Calgary with the Flames.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 22, 2021
The Heat playing in California would seem to be Plan A, as evidenced by the AHL releasing a schedule to that effect and Flames general manager Brad Treliving admitting as much to local media earlier this month. That said, it’s 2021 and there’s a pandemic and plans change.
The Heat play in San Joaquin County in northern California, a state that has been hammered by COVID lately. The San Jose Sharks play in nearby San Clara County and they had to move their training camp to Arizona due to county level COVID restrictions.
If the state and/or county aren’t able to approve the Heat playing in their home base, then obviously they’d need to come up with a different plan. And the AHL would need to re-do the schedule, likely placing the Heat in the makeshift Canadian Division. (Sharing an arena with the Flames and/or Hitmen could lead to other complications, as the Saddledome would have a ton of foot traffic in and out that could give Alberta’s health authorities pause.)
As of now, nothing definitive has been announced by the Flames, Heat or AHL regarding what’s going to happen.