Are we heading toward an NHL Western Conference AHL affiliate reorganization? Darren Dregger at TSN broke the story late Thursday afternoon and at issue is the geographic hardship many of the Western Conference NHL teams face with their AHL affiliates. Earlier in October, the Western Conference NHL teams from Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Colorado, Phoenix, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton met to discuss solutions with the NHL Deputy Commissioner. The problem is illustrated very clearly on the map above which lists current AHL team locations. Some of the Western Conference NHL teams are thousands of miles from their AHL affiliate as seen in Darren Dregger’s list below (mileage added by Artfulpuck):

Syracuse, NY to Anaheim — 3,745km (2327 miles)
Manchester, NH to Los Angeles — 4,143km (2574 miles)
Worcester, Mass to San Jose — 4,263km (2649 miles)
Portland, Maine to Phoenix — 3,773km (2344 miles)
Cleveland to Denver — 1,974km (1227 miles)

For more on this story, read Dregger’s article and the followup article on Puck Daddy. While we will not see changes overnight, I believe we will ultimately see changes in the future. This could mean moves for some AHL teams to create a “western wing” of the AHL, or even more drastic measures as proposed by some NHL teams such as the creation of an entirely new league.