The moving trucks are backing up in Springfield, following the announcement earlier today by the Oilers that they're moving the farm to Oklahoma City.
Set to expire following the 2009-10 season, President of Hockey Operations, Kevin Lowe, said the Oilers will not renew the parent club's affiliation agreement with the Springfield, Mass. Falcons.
Instead, Edmonton has negotiated a deal to move the team's AHL operations to Oklahoma City, an arrangement that makes sense from a travel perspective. Just ask Devan Dubnyk, the team's #1 goaltending prospect. Dubnyk has logged literally thousands of air miles this season travelling between Springfield and Alberta capital. In fact, he's likely passing Bryan Pitton in the skies somewhere over the Midwest as we speak, after being called up by the Oilers as they prepare to face the Ducks in Anaheim Wednesday night.
The Oilers have teamed up with Prodigal Hockey LLC owner Robert Funk Jr., who will manage the Oilers' franchise and oversee renovations to Cox Convention Centre, which will become the home of the Oilers' new AHL franchise beginning next October.
OK City was the home of the Blazers, before the Centreal Hockey League team folded following the 2008-09 season. Edmonton is said to be considering former Blazers coach Doug Sauter for a position with the new club. While minor league hockey is nothing new to this midwestern market, make no mistake, Oklahomans are passionate about pigskin and hoops.
Whether they'll become passionate about “puck”, remains to be seen.
The Falcons meanwhile, are struggling to maintain flight in the AHL, as they search for a new affiliation agreement with an NHL team. Currently, Anaheim is the only NHL franchise without an AHL affiliate.
Talk soon! Keep your sticks on the ice.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.