They'll be 2,294 miles apart, but the Vancouver Canucks will bring the city of Utica, N.Y. back to the American Hockey League in 2013-14.
AHL President Dave Andrews announced today that the league's Board of Governors had approved the relocation of the league's Peoria franchise to the city of Utica unanimously. The Peoria franchise, known as the Rivermen, had been sold in 2013 by St. Louis Blues Chairman Tom Stillman to the Canucks. The team will now be called the Utica Comets. They will play home games at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
"The city of Utica has a rich hockey history and a passionate fan base," said Andrews. "We welcome the Comets to the American Hockey League and look forward to returning to the Mohawk Valley." Utica previously had been the home to the New Jersey Devils' AHL franchise from 1987-93. The team will be managed by a group that includes former NHL goaltender Robert Esche.
This continues the roulette wheel of AHL relocations during the 2013 offseason. St. Louis has moved their affiliate from Peoria to Chicago, while Minnesota will take their affiliate from Houston to Des Moines, Iowa. Vancouver's prior AHL affiliate, before the sale of the Peoria franchise, had been the Chicago Wolves.