VANCOUVER — Amid reports, since denied, that the Calgary Flames were planning to move their Abbotsford Heat farm team to Utica, N.Y., Chicago Wolves GM Wendell Young was left wondering Monday about his American Hockey League affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks and Wolves are in the final year of a two-year agreement and Young doesn't want to be left at the altar if something happens in Utica, where people there are actively pursuing an affiliation, and a pile of dominoes begin to fall. There are 30 AHL teams and each has an NHL affiliate.
"With all the rumours out there, I've probably already had 8-10 inquiries on whether we're going to be an open affiliate in Chicago here," Young said over the phone. "Vancouver is not saying 'no' and they're not saying 'yes.' I don't want to be sitting here in June and have to take what's left. I'm antsy myself.
"If we're back with the Canucks, then I kind of have a read on who's coming through junior, who has a possibility of being on my team and what would be needed from a veteran or free agent standpoint to complete the roster. It's hard to plan ahead when there are so many uncertainties. It's a little frustrating from my side."
The Flames admit they have been approached by Utica interests but issued a statement saying they were "committed to Abbotsford and have made no alternate commitments." They are in the fourth year of a 10-year deal in Abbotsford. If the Flames opted to sell the Abbotsford franchise to the Canucks, who would then put their farmhands there, they would themselves need to purchase another AHL franchise. The Canucks don't own the Chicago Wolves.
Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman was guarded Monday when asked for a comment.
"We've had a very good relationship with the Wolves, their ownership and their management over the last two years and we are currently in discussion with them about what the future holds," Gilman said. "As of this point, I'm not sure how it's going to unfold. My experience in the American Hockey League, there are times when affiliations don't get sorted out until the summertime, as was the case last time."
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