We still don’t know what Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise will be called when they take the ice in 2021-22. Numerous names have been bandied about but nothing has been made official. And yes, we all agree it should be the Seattle Kraken, but the team’s brass has been dragging its feet on the name.
However, other details about the new club are starting to filter out. For instance, the team hired Ron Francis to be its first general manager and has made a lot of noise about being a natural rival with the Canucks.
Oh, and the organization will base its AHL affiliate in Palm Springs, California.
From our corner, this is an excellent call. Palm Springs has an inordinate amount of Canadian ex-pats living there, especially in the winter. And it’s probably not a stretch to say these people are rich enough to afford to go to a game. Maybe even to buy season tickets when they’re not even around for the full season.
It’s a market that’s bubbling over with potential for professional sports and the only real ticket in town is collegiate baseball.
Palm Springs is also on the west coast, making it an ideal spot for Seattle’s affiliate—it’s a short two-and-a-half hour flight up to the big club.
Of course, it’s only three hours from the balmy California city to Vancouver, prompting one to wonder why the Canucks never inquired about putting AHL roots down in the area.
After all, the Canucks are one of the only teams in the NHL that has such a long distance from their affiliate, forcing call-ups to travel about six hours to get to Utica, New York.
There has been some hand wringing in the past few years about having an AHL affiliate so far from the NHL club (including calls to move the team to Abbotsford, though the first try at that didn’t go well), but it hasn’t done much to stop the Canucks from committing to the Utica Comets.
In December of last year, the Canucks signed a deal that could keep the Comets in Utica for the next six years.
Who knows whether that deal will actually stand the test of time. The Comets are good at bringing in attendance where they are, and as we’ve seen with the Vancouver Giants, it’s not like Vancouver’s suburbs have been a hotbed for professional sport.
But it’ll be interesting to see whether Seattle’s agreement in Palm Springs turns some heads in Vancouver and gets some wondering whether a closer, west coast location is a good call. It can’t be Palm Springs anymore, obviously, but there’s probably somewhere that would work between Vancouver and upstate New York, no?
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