Late this afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks announced their intent to move their American Hockey League affiliate to the City of Abbotsford in time for the start of the next season.
The Canucks haven’t had an AHL affiliate located in Canada since their partnership with the Manitoba Moose ended in 2011 after the Winnipeg Jets joined the league.
Vancouver has sent their top prospects to develop with the Utica Comets since 2013, and unsuccessfully tried to get their AHL affiliate relocated to Canada eight years ago.
“With momentum starting to build, we are pleased to confirm our goal to bring our AHL franchise and Canucks prospects home to the City of Abbotsford,” Francesco Aquilini, Chairman, Canucks Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement. “The move would bring significant opportunities for both our team and the community and it would begin a new chapter, bringing Canucks hockey to even more fans throughout the Lower Mainland.”
Aquilini also thanked the Comets and their president, Robert Esche, for their partnership.
“We are extremely grateful for the outstanding partnership and working relationship we’ve had with Robert Esche and the entire Utica Comets family,” Aquilini said. “Since 2013, we have worked closely to create a first-class hockey environment for our players and Utica’s great fans. Utica has one of the best, most energetic hockey environments in North America. We wish Robert, his staff and the incredible Comets fans nothing but success in the future.”
The Abbotsford team will no longer be called the Comets, and fans have already started to throw out potential team names, including the Aces, the Alliance, and many more.
Fans are now able to put down a deposit for season tickets for the 2021-22 Abbotsford AHL team’s season if they wish to do so.
The club will play in the AHL’s Pacific Division, where most of the teams are based out of California.