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Flames Leaving Glens Falls, New Team On The Way

Lucas Willard

Glens Falls is losing its professional hockey team after only one season. But there is a silver lining — another team will skate at the City Center next fall.

In a deal finalized this week, the Adirondack Flames, an American Hockey League team that arrived in Glens Falls only a few months ago, will be moving west.

The Calgary Flames, the NHL parent team of the Adirondack Flames, will be moving the team to Stockton, California – the result of the creation of the new Pacific Division of the American Hockey League. The move is seen as a league effort to put farm teams closer to their NHL affiliates, and it follows a larger trend of siting hockey teams in warmer locales.

Calgary, however, will not be leaving the Civic Center entirely. Calgary has purchased an East Coast Hockey League team, one step below the American Hockey League, to take its place.

Brian McKenna, ECHL Commissioner, said Friday he’s excited for the puck drop next October.

“We’re proud of the fact that we provide a great entertainment product for our fans, we’re continued to work in every market in the league to ensure that happens, sharing ideas, making sure that we have great facilities, the front office is committed to putting out a great product, and I think we’re going to see here from the Calgary organization a commitment to put a great product on the ice as well.”

Players in the ECHL, a developmental league, move on to the AHL and perhaps the NHL.

This will be the sixth team to call Glens Falls home.  The aging Civic Center was the longtime home of the Adirondack Red Wings — whose championship banners still hang from the rafters there — until 1999. Then came the United Hockey League’s Adirondack Ice Hawks, later renamed the Frostbite, the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms, who stayed for five years, and the Flames.

Flames president Brian Petrovek, who will stay on to continue his work with the new ECHL team, said Flames fans can continue to expect great hockey for the remaining 11 weeks of the season.

“Our expectation is that the next five months, hopefully extending deep into the month of June, with a run of the Calder Cup, will be even more exciting and add to the rich history of professional hockey in this building and in this region over the past three-plus decades. But we’re here today to start a new and exciting chapter.”

Petrovek thanked the city, Warren County, the Civic Center Coalition, and the fans for enthusiastically embracing the Flames.

But the news conference Friday was a bit quieter in tone than the announcement of the Flames’ arrival last spring.

Dressed in team colors, local fan June Talley said she is happy the Civic Center gets another shot at the game.

“I’m happy with ECHL. I’m happy with good hockey here.”

Officials are happy the new ECHL team will stay at least three years. Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond…

“Yeah, there’s no outs, it’s a commitment to Glens Falls, and it also allows for the community and the organization that’s managing it to build that base. There’s not going to be that doubt that maybe the team would be exiting after one year, two years, they’ve made a commitment for at least three, but we’re looking for a longer relationship.”

Dan Burke, President of the Civic Center Coalition, which assumed ownership of the arena from the city on January 1st, is also looking to the future in a longtime hockey town.

“I get the long-term picture. You can talk about the long-term picture and what these kids are doing and where they wanted to be, and things like that. And then you get rivalries, and then those are always bringing fans in. Loud, excited.”

The new team will play 72 games in the 2015-2016 season. A name and logo have yet to be announced. Season tickets will go on sale February 16.

Due to the creation of the Pacific Division, the AHL franchise owned by the Los Angeles Kings will relocate from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Ontario, California. Manchester will also see an ECHL team move in in its place.

The AHL franchise owned by the San Jose Sharks will relocate from Worcester, Massachusetts, to San Jose, California.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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