By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
It should be pretty clear by now that the Adirondack Flames won’t be here much longer.
The AHL Westward Expansion dominoes continued to fall last week. The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk reported on Jan. 8 that the Anaheim Ducks, as expected, will buy the Norfolk Admirals and move them to San Diego.
The next day, the Stockton Record in California cited “the impending sale of the Stockton Thunder to the Calgary Flames” and that the City Council was being asked to allow the team to be sold to an entity called Adirondack Flames Canada.
The Calgary Flames then stated: “We have an agreement in place to purchase the Stockton franchise but until we receive approval from both the City and the ECHL, we will reserve any further comment.”
AHL President Dave Andrews was not available for comment. Many are speculating that the AHL will make some sort of announcement at the All-Star Weekend at Turning Stone on Jan. 25-26.
Dan Burke, president of the Civic Center Coalition, said he has talked to Calgary officials. He said the Coalition is committed to having a hockey team in Glens Falls and is being proactive.
“If the Flames stay, we’re good to go,” he told The Chronicle Tuesday. “If not, I’m not sure what our options may be, but we aren’t sitting around waiting for something to happen. We are making phone calls to let folks know that if something happens, they know about this building.”
Mr. Burke added, “My sense is we are not far from the Flames telling us what they are going to do.”
Okay, so what’s next? Piecing together what we know, Glens Falls won’t be the only current AHL city looking for a team. Manchester, N.H., and Worcester, Mass., will also likely lose their current teams, which theoretically makes it tougher for Glens Falls. Both of those cities have newer, nicer buildings.
But I believe Glens Falls could be an attractive fit for the Albany Devils. They aren’t drawing well in a much bigger building, and their is up at the end of this season. I don’t have any inside information here, just a hunch.
I do know that Adirondack Flames president Brian Petrovek knows Lou Lamoriello, the New Jersey Devils president and general manager. They worked together years ago.
Lamoriello also knows Claude Loiselle, a Coalition member who once worked for the Devils, and he knows Doug Burch, another Coalition member who used to work with Lamoriello in Albany.
The Times Union reported Tuesday that TU Center general manager Bob Belber said he started negotiations with Lamoriello three weeks ago.
“We’re trying to make sure we can keep a hockey team,” Belber told the TU. “That’s always going to be my biggest challenge.”
Think it’s a long shot? Here’s what Mr. Andrews told the Worcester Telegram last month: “I don’t think it’s a given that cities that lose teams as part of any shift to the West Coast — that there won’t be other teams in the league whose business might not be so good, that might look at places like Worcester or Manchester or Glens Falls as possible markets.”
Don’t be surprised if the Adirondack Devils are skating on the Glens Falls Civic Center ice next October.
And finally, let’s clear up a few things.
1. No one is at fault here — not Mayor Jack Diamond, not the Common Council, not Global Spectrum, not the AHL. Calgary made it very clear last spring when they were looking at Glens Falls that they would likely only be here for one or two seasons. Why do you think they had an out clause built into the three-year contract, allowing them to leave after the first or second years?
2. Just like the Phantoms, Calgary is saying their goal is to make sure the AHL remains in Glens Falls. That’s nice of them to say, but frankly it means nothing. Any team that relocates to Glens Falls will do so because it makes sense for them, financially and otherwise.
3. If the Flames leave, Glens Falls was lucky to have them here for one year. They are showing us what a real organization and a competitive AHL team look like. The players play hard, and the fans respond.
And Calgary loves it here. They really do. That could make a difference if the Devils or another team thinks about relocating to Glens Falls.
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