Update: Vancouver-Peoria, St. Louis-Chicago, Calgary-Utica?

Last week, the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues made the sale and purchase of the Peoria Rivermen official.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini from the press release:

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Canucks. The purchase of the Peoria franchise allows us to take an important step and assume full control of our minor league development program.”

Part 1 of the process complete. Here’s once again Tom Mayenknecht of Team 1040′s sports business show:

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Regarding part 2, the Chicago Wolves now vacant NHL affiliation:

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Now to part 3:

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He continues:

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And finally, leverage the Canucks do have:

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Clearly, there’s still some work to be done on this whole situation. Will be interesting to see how this thing plays out.

Original Post: March 31, 2013

Nearly two weeks ago, Tom Mayenknecht of Team 1040′s sports business show reported:

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Mayenknecht says that March 23rd date is more of a target than a “drop dead date”.

He also described this situation as “all back channel talk but given moving pieces, expect this kind of shuffle to become front channel by week’s end.”

And now, it seems to be coming through. Blues reporter Andy Strickland last night:

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Strickland also wrote a report on it, found here. There he says, “Sources say it no longer makes financial sense for the Blues to continue owning the Rivermen.”

Which brought us here last night:

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Now obviously, this whole thing would make a lot more sense if the Canucks just bought the Abbotsford Heat from the Calgary Flames and the Flames take the Rivermen and move them to Utica or wherever, but apparently those talks have broken off as Strickland reports in his article,“There was talk of Vancouver and Calgary having discussions regarding the potential sale of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Flames. Sources say those talks ended several days ago.”

This situation is also very hush-hush from all sides, from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:

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And this article is just riddled with it: pjstar.com

So why this AHL affiliate switcheroo in the first place?

Well for the Canucks, having their affiliate club in Abbotsford allows for call-ups to drive to Canucks home games instead of flying which makes a whole lot of sense. It also makes a lot of sense for the city of Abbotsford too because maybe having prospects of Canucks nation at a close to home location would help justify tax payers’ dollars (who currently pay to help the team break even).

Blues owner Tom Stillman bought the team last year and inherited their affiliate the Peoria Rivermen. He’s looking to move the team to help cut loses, more here. A move to Chicago, the second most popular team in terms of attendance, would be nice for Stillman as they are also independently owned.

Now, I’m not entirely sure the reasoning behind the Flames willing to move their AHL farm team out of BC an hour away, but it could have to do with the Heat having the third worst attendance in the AHL. Probably because British Columbia are all Canucks fans. So, moving their farm team to a city not in the same proximity to a rival team would be a good start.

Luke Tully is a contributor to Sports Business Canada. He runs puckbiz.com, a sports blog dedicated to The Business of Hockey. 

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