Abbotsford AHL team
City: Abbotsford, British Columbia
League: American Hockey League
Founded: 1932
Home Arena: Abbotsford Centre
Owner(s): Canucks Sports & Entertainment
Affiliates: Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Franchise history
1932–1935: Quebec Beavers
1935–1951: Springfield Indians
1951–1954: Syracuse Warriors
1954–1967: Springfield Indians
1967–1974: Springfield Kings
1974–1994: Springfield Indians
1994–2005: Worcester IceCats
2005–2013: Peoria Rivermen
2013–2021: Utica Comets
in 2021–22: Abbotsford

The Abbotsford AHL team is a professional ice hockey team to be based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and members of the American Hockey League (AHL). The team is announced to begin play in the 2021–22 season with home games at the Abbotsford Centre as the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks. The team is a relocation of the franchise owned by the Canucks and used by the Utica Comets from 2013 to 2021. This is the second AHL team play in Abbotsford after the Calgary Flames' affiliate Abbotsford Heat from 2009 until 2014.

History[edit | edit source]

On March 29, 2013, Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CS&E), owners of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Vancouver Canucks, was announced as purchasing the American Hockey League (AHL) franchise playing as the Peoria Rivermen and was approved by the league on April 18.[1] After purchasing the franchise, CS&E intended to have the franchise located in a market close to Vancouver with their initial preference as Abbotsford, British Columbia, which was home to the Calgary Flames' AHL farm club, the Abbotsford Heat. The Heat had been rumored to relocate to Utica, New York, at the time.[2] Negotiations between the Canucks and Abbotsford broke down by April 22 and the Heat remained in the city.[3]

After exploring options for having the team in Vancouver,[4] Seattle,[5] and Peoria,[6] CS&E came to a six-year operating agreement with Robert Esche to place the franchise in Utica and the city's soon-to-be-renovated Memorial Auditorium as the Utica Comets.[7]The Comets began play in the 2013–14 AHL season. The Heat lasted only one more season in Abbotsford before relocating to Glens Falls, New York, as the Adirondack Flames in 2014. Before the 2019–20 season, CS&E and Esche's operating contract was extended for up to an additional six years, with potential opt outs every two seasons.[8][9]

In April 2021, a new trademark was filed for the brand "Utica Devils" by Robert Esche for a potential relocation of the Binghamton Devils.[10] On May 4, the Canucks announced that they planned to relocate the Comets' franchise to Abbotsford, pending final discussions with the city of Abbotsford and league approval, for the 2021–22 season.[11] On May 6, the league approved of both relocations[12] and the Utica team remained branded as the Comets.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

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