Last summer saw seven AHL teams relocated. Given all that change, it would be reasonable to expect a quiet summer this year. Not so fast.
We learned in April that the Springfield Falcons will relocate to Tucson, Arizona ahead of the 2016-17 season. A week later, the Ottawa Sun reported the Binghamton Senators are mulling a move to Belleville, Ontario. And just last Wednesday the Portland Pirates announced an agreement to sell and send the team to Springfield, Mass. (to replace the Falcons).
So don't get too comfortable with the current AHL map. It will be changing. Of course all of these plans are subject to approval by the AHL Board of Governors.
As for the cities losing teams, there's mostly good news.
Springfield may be losing the Falcons, but as I mentioned, they're getting the Pirates. The change will probably amount to little more than a new name and a new roster.
Binghamton is a great AHL market and the league will not be content to leave it empty on the off chance the B-Sens do move forward with their relocation. It's likely another AHL team would find its way to Binghamton in short order.
Portland is more likely to find its way into the ECHL either by way of the relocation or expansion — though the league recently resolved never to have more teams than the NHL (for affiliation purposes). The Worcester Railers HC will be the 28th when they begin play in 2017-18.
Belleville is the city being considered by the B-Sens at the moment simply to bring the team physically closer to its NHL parent club in Ottawa. The Belleville Bulls (OHL) left for Hamilton last year when the Bulldogs (AHL) moved to St. John's.
It'll be interesting to see what ends up happening with all this. At the moment, we have the potential for three new AHL logos and uniform sets before the fall.
Oh, and today marks nine years since the debut of Icethetics. Happy birthday to us!