The Flames’ AHL affiliate is relocating to Calgary for 2022-23 season
Photo credit:Photo courtesy the Stockton Heat
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
After seven seasons with an American Hockey League team in Stockton, California, the Calgary Flames are bringing their farm team a little closer to home. Okay, a lot closer. Beginning with the 2022-23 season, the Flames’ top affiliate will be relocated to Calgary.
The move was originally reported by Inside AHL Hockey’s Tony Androckitis.
The Heat played five seasons in Stockton on their original lease, then negotiated a one year renewal as they tried to nail down a longer-term deal. A wrinkle came in the form of the pandemic, which forced the Flames to have their AHL team co-located in Calgary due to border challenges. The Flames really liked the convenience of that situation, which likely led to this move: it’s cost efficient, the travel is about the same for call-ups as it would be in Stockton, and it allows players more hands-on time with the organization’s development staff. (The Abbotsford Canucks played the 2021-22 season and experienced better-than-expected travel, which also undoubtedly factored into the Flames’ decision-making, as noted by AHL.com and NHL.com reported Patrick Williams on Twitter.)
The move seems to work with the AHL’s needs, too. The Pacific Division had nine teams, including Stockton, in 2021-22, and the new Coachella Valley Firebirds are likely earmarked for that division. Something had to give. (Changes in the AHL’s divisional alignments are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.)
Of the seven Canadian NHL teams, the Flames become the sixth to have their AHL affiliate in Canada, following Abbotsford (Vancouver), Manitoba (Winnipeg), Toronto (Toronto), Belleville (Ottawa) and Laval (Montreal). The only Canadian team with an American affiliate is Bakersfield, Edmonton’s AHL club. In 2021-22, the five existing Canadian AHL clubs were split between three divisions – Abbotsford in Pacific, Manitoba in Central, Toronto, Belleville and Laval in North.
The Heat’s move continues a rather nomadic existence for the Flames’ AHL franchise. Since their return from dormancy in 2005, they’ve played in Omaha, NE (Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights; 2005-07), Moline, IL (Quad City Flames; 2007-09), Abbotsford, BC (Abbotsford Heat; 2009-14), Glens Falls, NY (Adirondack Flames; 2014-15), Stockton, CA (2015-20), Calgary (2020-21), and Stockton again (2021-22).
It’s unclear where the Heat will play (or if they’ll be rebranded), or what this means for the Calgary Hitmen. It seems unlikely that the Flames, Heat, Hitmen and Roughnecks will share the Saddledome, so there will probably be some shuffling going on. Bear in mind that the Hitmen played home games in 2020-21 at the 7 Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation, just west of town, and two home games were moved there from the Saddledome when the Flames’ schedule was rearranged due to their pandemic postponements during this past regular season.
We’ll have more on this story as details become available.
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