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Colorado to potentially get a new AHL club

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Rumors surfaced on Monday about the possible relocation of an AHL club to Colorado Springs

Eagles celebrate a goal in Stockton
Photo courtesy of Colorado Eagles

Just two days after the National Hockey League hosted its annual Stadium Series game between the Colorado Avalanche and L.A. Kings on the base of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, rumors surfaced Monday evening of a potential relocation of an American Hockey League club to the Springs.

The immediate thought by many was that the state’s beloved Colorado Eagles would be the ones on the move. However, after reaching out to a source close to the situation, they confirmed with me that it is not the Eagles that are moving, rather, the second-year AHL club will be getting a new in-state rival in the coming seasons.

David Pagnotta, also confirmed this fact later.

The likeliest AHL team to make the move is the Stockton Heat, which aligns with the rumors swirling on Twitter at the moment.

The Heat are having a great year so far in Stockton. Currently at 28-13-6 on the season, the Heat are second place in the Pacific Division, the same division Colorado currently resides in, too. The issue is the market around that area of Stockton, California — or lack thereof.

According to HockeyDB.com, Stockton has the lowest average attendance in the American League this season at 2,798 per game, down from the 3,690 attendance number of last season.

Here’s a brief video of the Eagles most recent trip to Stockton that details the lack of attendance:

There are many I’s to dot and T’s to cross before this happens. Whichever team makes the move, whether it’s Stockton or not, would be playing at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs — which is an Olympic-sized hockey rink — meaning the dimensions are 98.4 feet wide by 197 feet long. The rink would have to be changed in order to adhere to the American Hockey League’s rink size restriction as stated in the official rulebook.

1.2 Dimensions - The official size of the rink shall be two hundred feet (200’) long and eighty-five feet (85’) wide. The corners shall be rounded in the arc of a circle with a radius of twenty-eight feet (28’). — AHL Rulebook

The relocation of the San Antonio Rampage to the Vegas area and the addition of the new Seattle NHL-affiliated Palm Springs AHL team presents an issue with divisional alignment.

Every AHL division has eight teams except for the Pacific Division. Geographically, it would make the most sense for San Antonio (Vegas) to move to the Pacific, as would the new Palm Springs team. That would then make eight teams in the Pacific if you move Colorado to the Central.

Travel cost, money and logistics are very much factored in to these decisions by the AHL. It’s the reason why the Pacific Division plays fewer games than the rest of the divisions. Teams in the Pacific are more geographically spread out and further apart from each other. The cost and expenses associated with traveling were too much, so the league eliminated a handful of games from the Pacific’s schedule to save its teams money.

This will certainly be factored into the new realignment, especially if there will be two teams in the state of Colorado.