GLENS FALLS -- Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond got home from a meeting Monday night, looking forward to settling in to watch the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Next season, he will again be watching live hockey at Glens Falls Civic Center, not just from the comfort of his couch.
The AHL Board of Governors approved the relocation of the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate from Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Glens Falls on Monday, according to press releases from the team and league. The Flames’ affiliate will begin its tenure in Glens Falls next season, after the Adirondack Phantoms vacate the building for their new arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The mayor, who had been tight-lipped until the announcement came, called it a “great day for Glens Falls and a great day for hockey fans.”
Diamond said the contract has been agreed upon and will be signed next week, when Flames officials will be in town to announce more details at a news conference.
“The Common Council will have to ratify it, but I don’t see a problem,” Diamond said. The next Common Council meeting is May 13.
Diamond said the contract would be three years in length with an option for two additional years. He said a three-season contract with an option of two more seasons is the standard contract terms for most AHL teams.
“It hasn’t been indicated to me that this is just a stop-over,” Diamond said Friday, before the announcement.
“Glens Falls has had a terrific history with the American Hockey League and will be an ideal location and environment for the development of our prospects,” said Flames General Manager Brad Treliving in the press release. “When we announced on April 15th our discontinuation of operations in the City of Abbotsford, we had a few options available to us and there was much speculation about Glens Falls. There has been a high level of interest demonstrated to ensure the AHL remains in that market. We look forward to finalizing details and beginning this new partnership.”
There have been many rumors of teams looking into and potentially moving to Glens Falls during the past few years.
“We didn’t give up; there was a lot of criticism,” Diamond said.
“It’s challenging because of the size of our community, our building is a little bit older. The quality of life in terms of player development, I think that means a lot to a NHL team — get them ice time, less distractions and get them up to the NHL as fast as possible. They knew there was a dedicated fan base out there.”
When the Phantoms came to town as a temporary team five years ago, it was billed as a chance for the city to prove itself after being without an AHL team since the Adirondack Red Wings left in 1999 after 20 years in the city. The plan seems to have worked.
“I have to give credit to the Phantoms; they gave our market some exposure,” Diamond said. “They showed that the American Hockey League can work here. If it weren’t for the Phantoms, we would not be signing a team right now.”
Diamond credited both the fans and the Phantoms for making this happen. Attendance was strong at the end of this season despite having a lame-duck team that finished near the bottom of the league.
The new team’s name has not been determined, Flames officials told the Calgary Herald.
It is not clear which league or division the team will play in. Alignment is usually determined at the league’s Annual Meeting in July. The Abbotsford Heat played in the West Division of the Western Conference. If the new team plays in the Eastern Conference, the conferences would be uneven or a team would have to be shifted west. It could also play in the North Division of the Western Conference, which is made up of Hamilton, Toronto, Rochester, Utica and Lake Erie.
Staff writer Maury Thompson contributed to this report.