For the first time, the American Hockey League's opening night will include California-based franchises when the league's 80th season starts Friday.
First announced in January, the formation of the Pacific Division was a project with many moving parts, and an initiative with multiple outcomes that will benefit the long-term future of hockey in North America. It speaks volumes to the crucial role the AHL plays in professional player development, as well as to the growth and support that the game of hockey has been experiencing on the West Coast.
"The importance of the AHL's new Pacific Division to western-based clubs cannot be overstated," San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "The moves eliminate cross-country travel for players being recalled and re-assigned, and allows our entire hockey staff to monitor and take part in each player's growth and development."