The pieces of the puzzle which will free Abbotsford taxpayers from what Councillor John Smith described as the hemorrhaging of funds to support the money losing Abbotsford Heat may be coming together despite all of the denials from the Heat and the Calgary Flames.
Daniel Schöpf at thehockeywriters.com is reporting the St Louis Blues have sold their AHL farm team – the Peoria Rivermen – to the Vancouver Canucks.
The report intensifies the speculation that the Calgary Flames will move their farm team – the Abbotsford Heat – to New York before next season leaving the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre open for a deal with the Canucks to move their farm team here.
Since February, when reports were first published about the possibility the Heat would be moving to Utica New York, both the Calgary Flames and the Abbotsford Heat have been denying the reports in the old Abbotsford newspapers which have printed the denials every time a piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.
First it was the report the Heat were moving, then the more detailed report about a business deal being put together in Utica, then the report out of Chicago that the Chicago Wolves GM believed there was something to all the rumours about the Canucks putting together a deal which would see them buy the Rivermen and move them to Abbotsford.
Watch for another set of predictions
to come true 😉
Peoria Rivermen Become New Canucks AHL Affiliate, Abbotsford Next?
By Daniel Schöpf. The tweet of Radio host and St Louis based NHL writer Andy Strickland made the news official, the Vancouver Canucks have purchased the AHL Peoria Rivermen franchise, with the Chicago Wolves soon expected to become the affiliate to the St Louis Blues. It is definitely the end of an era but a new beginning of sorts in Chicago for the St. Louis Blues.
Andy Strickland @andystrickland
#stlblues have sold their #AHL affiliate in Peoria to the Vancouver #Canucks…Chicago #Wolves expected to become new Blues AHL affiliate
The news has followed recent speculation involving a three way change in AHL affiliates with the Blues taking over the Chicago Wolves, the Canucks taking over the Rivermen franchise and relocating them to Abbotsford with the Flames moving their current Abbotsford Heat affiliate to Albany, New York.
Dave Eminian of the Journal Star posted a statement made by Peoria Civic Center GM Jim Wetherington this morning, confirming the split between the Rivermen affiliate and St Louis Blues;
The Rivermen are leaving. They are gone. That’s really all it says. The Blues have exercised their option in the lease to end the agreement.
With the Canucks now owning the Peoria Rivermen AHL franchise, fans can expect an announcement soon that the Calgary Flames affiliate team will move away the city, most likely to Albany, with the Canucks relocating the Rivermen franchise under a new name to Abbotsford, which is only an hours drive from Vancouver.
The Abbotsford Heat have been losing money each year since inception into the AHL four seasons ago, mainly due to being a Calgary affiliate in the Abbotsford Heatheart of BC. A switch of alliances from the Flames to the Canucks in Abbotsford is expected to draw more fans to games and create a lot more buzz in the area, as well as allowing Canucks affiliate players to be much closer to the big club for potential call-ups.
The PJ Journal of Illinois has also suggested that in the unlikely event the Calgary Flames choose not to move the franchise from Abbotsford, the Canucks may keep the affiliate team in Peoria for next season and reassess after 2013/14. In turn, if the Rivermen are moved, it has also been rumored that Peoria may form a new ECHL team to keep hockey in the area.
Some suggestions for new Vancouver AHL team names that have been floating around Twitter and online forums include the Abbotsford Millionaires, the name of the old Vancouver team or the Abbotsford Airmen, taking in a part of the history of the area.