Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 8/20/12
Closer Together!

Good Morning, everyone, I hope your weekend went well and you didn’t wake up last night at 2 o’clock in the morning with a fever and sore throat.

Anyways, lets move on and get at it.

Should the Canucks seriously pursue the purchase of the Abbotsford Heat?

Not every NHL team has the luxury of having their AHL affiliate within close proximity of the parent team and while there are 30 AHL teams to match the 30 NHL teams, the American Hockey League only has four Canadian teams.

The Saint Johns Icecaps, Abbotsford Heat, Toronto Marlies and the Hamilton Bulldogs. The parent clubs of which are located in Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal respectively.

All close enough for a quick recall for a home game.

The Canucks don’t really have that luxury. Vancouver is currently going into the second year of a two-year affiliation agreement with the Chicago Wolves.

So what happens when that agreement is up?

While the easiest and most logical assumption is that Vancouver and Chicago sign another affiliation deal, it’s interesting to note that rumors have popped up regarding Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini at least enquiring about the purchase of the Abbotsford Heat, the current AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.

Of course those are just rumors, the likes of which are obvious enough even for certain “insiders” like “HockeyyInsiderrs”.

Vancouver is close to Abbotsford; it makes sense for the Canucks to have their farm team a 40-minute drive away.

Close to Home

Like I said before, Vancouver doesn’t have the luxury of making a quick call up like the Leafs or Canadians do. If the Canucks AHL affiliate was in Abbotsford, the recall of players is much speedier for home games and even road games in Western Canada and down the West Coast United States.

Not to mention, having a farm team that is actually close to home would generate a larger turn out for the 38 home games each year.

The seats wouldn’t be empty if Vancouverites would be able to go watch the future of the Canucks at least 38 times a season…

Attendance Issues

The Heats’ attendance has dropped 8.9% in the last three seasons. Having a local farm team would likely address and fix this issue. Imagine being able to go watch the future of the Canucks at least 38 times a season?

Suddenly that drive from Vancouver, Port Moody or Surrey to Abbotsford isn’t that terrible.

What about those families who can’t afford to take the kids to a Canucks game? Having the farm team in driving distance is an appealing alternative for a night of hockey.

Getting to know your Prospects

I’ll admit that I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks prospects. Sure there’s five or so that I know a bit about, enough to write about at least, but being able to watch those players grow into NHL caliber talent is very appealing.

Just because these players never ended up playing for the Canucks, how great has it been to watch former Vancouver Giants players like Evander Kane, Milan Lucic and Gilbert Brule turn pro?

Now imagine having a minor league team where most, if not all the players are property of the Canucks.

Getting to watch players turn pro is one thing, but watching them turn pro and play for the Canucks is something else entirely.

I would love to see the Abbotsford Heat turn into the affiliate for the Canucks.

However, I don’t think it would be as simple as Aquilini buying the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

A deal would have to be reached to purchase the Heat from the Calgary Flames and in turn the Flames would then be in search of an AHL club of their own.

While it’s easy to speculate that the Flames would just sign an affiliation agreement with the Wolves and transfer their players and prospects over to Chicago, the luxury for the Flames of having their AHL team as close as a 45 minute flight from Calgary may be to much to let go of.


© Mitch Dyck for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Abbotsford, Abbotsford Heat, AHL, Aquilini Investment Group, Calgary Flames, Canucks Blog, Chicago, Evander Kane, Gilbert Brule, Heat, milan lucic, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs, vancouver, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Canucks Blog, Vancouver Canucks hockey, Vancouver Canucks Rumors, winnipeg jets, Wolves

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