Late last week, TSN’s Darren Dreger raised the possibility that the Calgary Flames’ farm team may be playing in Calgary this season. Today, Stockton Record reporter Scott Linesburgh went further and declared it a certainty.
According to Linesburgh’s reporting, the Stockton Heat are going to be playing in Calgary this coming AHL season.
Here’s the meat of it, via the Record:
City and county officials confirmed that the franchise has decided to play its games in Calgary, Alberta, the hometown of its NHL parent organization, the Calgary Flames. The news comes just days after the Heat released its 2021 schedule. The decision does not mean the team will not return to Stockton in the future, according to city officials.
Officials with the Flames and Heat declined to comment on the situation. Stockton community relations officer Connie Cochran said the city was informed late last week that the American Hockey League franchise would be playing in Canada, reportedly because of COVID-19 concerns.
The 2020-21 season is also reportedly the final year in the lease between the Heat and the City of Stockton at Stockton Arena.
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The Heat playing in Calgary will require them to play with the Belleville Senators,  Manitoba Moose, Laval Rocket and Toronto Marlies in a five team Canadian Division, and require shuffling of the existing AHL schedule, announced last week, that had Stockton playing in the Pacific Division against their traditional foes. The original schedule had the Heat playing 40 times, which probably won’t be possible in the Canadian Division given the amount of travel and the smaller pool of potential opponents.
As of Sunday night, the Heat’s training camp group was still in Calgary.
The Heat playing in Calgary, though, does have its upsides. Players can be recalled and assigned to the AHL without a slew of travel, or international quarantine requirements to adhere to. As a result, the Flames will probably get some roster flexibility that would otherwise not be possible.
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That said, the Flames, Heat and Calgary Hitmen all playing out of the Saddledome could create some people traffic challenges, and the logistics of minimizing the potential for viral spread will likely be something the organization’s health and wellness personnel will need to pay additional mind to.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.