Reports out of Peoria, Illinois are indicating that the AHL’s Rivermen are on the move and have been purchased by the Vancouver Canucks.
An article in the Peoria Journal Star stated that the St. Louis Blues, which owned the Rivermen, have notified the Peoria Civic Center that they are moving the AHL franchise. The Canucks are said to be the buyer, though neither Vancouver nor St. Louis has publicly confirmed the transaction.
The reports corroborate information given to The News this week, indicating the Canucks had finalized the previously rumoured deal to buy the Rivermen.
Vancouver’s potential acquisition of an AHL franchise would be the first domino to fall in a much-speculated series of events that would see the Canucks station their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.
The Abbotsford Heat, owned by the Calgary Flames, are completing the fourth year of a 10-year contract to play out of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The supply fee agreement guarantees the hockey team a $5.7-million break-even budget, but the team has struggled at the box office, compelling the City of Abbotsford to cover shortfalls totalling $3.58 million ($450,000 in 2009-10, $1.37 million in 2010-11, and $1.76 million in 2011-12).
Rumours bubbled to the surface in late February that Utica, N.Y. could be a potential landing spot for the Heat should the Flames choose to move them from Abbotsford.
The Canucks’ two-year affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves expires at the end of this season, and the Wolves would be a potential dance partner for the Blues as they search for an AHL affiliate for 2013-14.