The lowdown on the American Hockey League
Let's get something straight.
The AHL Board of Governors' goal is to have 30 teams, with 30 different owners with each team affiliated one-to-one with an NHL team.
Currently, the AHL has achieved one of these goals. There are 30 AHL teams with 30 different owners. However, not all of these teams are "active" or have homes. Right now, it looks as if the the AHL will have 27 teams in 2006-07 with three teams "dormant" for the upcoming season.
The deadline for establishing a team in the 2006-07 season is May 15. We will know in the next two weeks how many teams will be in the 2006-07 AHL.
The three dormant franchises are:
Utah -- privately owned -- Rumor is that the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers purchased the franchise and will move them to Cleveland in 2007-08. This should be announced at the May 15 AHL Board of Governors' meeting.
Edmonton -- Oilers own and operate the franchise and are looking for a new home.
-- privately owned -- the owner, Pete Robinson, also owns the Cincinnati Gardens. Last Winter, Robinson started a campaign to get enough season ticket holders to bring the AHL back to Cincinnati in the form of the Railraiders who would play at the Gardnes. They didn't make their goal and the Cincinnati franchise will remain dormant and is, most likely, for sale. www.railraiders.com
The AHL is a fantastic league. If you need convincing,
"As the 2005-06 season kicked off on Wednesday, there were a total of 534 American Hockey League graduates spread out over 30 National Hockey League team rosters.
Better than three of every four NHL’ers on opening night were AHL alumni (76 percent),"
Hockey is not like baseball. In baseball, many of the top up-and-comers player AA baseball, i.e. the Royals in 2006 where Billy Butler, Chris Lubanski and Alex Gordon are playing AA. Many Major League Baseball teams treat their AAA farm club as a holding tank for older guys that can help in a pinch. The Royals brought up veteran Kerry Robinson from AAA Omaha.
In hockey, if a top prospect is 20 or older, he is, most likely, going to play in the AHL before being called up to the NHL. A few players, especially goalies, go to the ECHL to get extra ice time, but not many.
If a prospect is younger than 20, they, most likely, are playing in a Canadian Major Junior league (OHL, QMJHL or WHL) or with their NCAA team, like Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle, who was called up to San Jose after his season with Denver University ended.
Surprisingly, the NBA is finally catching on that a major, affiliate minor league is the best way to develop 18 - 20 year old athletes. The Lakers now own their own 'D' league team.
Lakers buy 'D' league team
Of course, the NBA continues to shoot itself in the foot at the same meeting by outlawing tights.
Now, c'mon, why in the world would you outlaw an article of athletic clothing that may help your league's players avoid and recover from hamstring injuries. Some of these NBA courts are placed on top of ice rinks and if a player has a nagging injury the chill of the arena may continue to aggrevate that injury.