The American Hockey League is reportedly set to undergo a realignment next season, and it appears one of the casualties is a Bay State resident.
The San Jose Sharks will move their AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks to San Jose, California to be closer to their NHL parent club, according to Mark Purdy of the Mercury News. Purdy reports that they will share the SAP Center with the San Jose Sharks.
The two teams will become the only current NHL-AHL partners to play in the same building. The Toronto Maple Leafs play in the same city as their AHL affiliate, the Marlies, but in separate arenas.
Creation of a west coast division in the AHL has long been speculated, and it appears the wheels may be in motion to make it happen. The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly working to buy their AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals and move them to San Diego, while TSN’s Darren Dreger offered this Tweet last month as to the league’s possible plans:
AHL sources won't divulge details, however, a west division comprised of LA, Ana, SJ, Cal and Edm is expected to launch for 2015.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 18, 2014
The Sharks franchise has been in Worcester since 2006, when they moved to Massachusetts from Cleveland. The Sharks have made the playoffs three times, including an Atlantic Division title in 2010-11, but have never advanced farther than the second round.
Notable NHL players to have spent time in Worcester include current Sharks Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Tommy Wingels.
The AHL currently has seven franchises in the six New England states: The Sharks, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Hartford Wolf Pack, Manchester Monarchs, Providence Bruins, Portland Pirates, and Springfield Falcons.
The Sharks would become the latest AHL franchise to depart Massachusetts, as the City of Lowell lost the team they hosted from 1998 to 2010. Called the Lock Monsters for their first eight years of existence, they changed their name to the Devils for the 2006-07 season, spending four years as the Lowell Devils before the franchise was moved to Albany, New York.