According to the Calgary Flames website on Tuesday, the Calgary Flames have decided to end their relationship with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. The Flames used Abbotsford as their top affilate since 2009.
The major reason why the Flames are leaving Abbotsford comes down to economics. According to CBC News, the Heat had $12 million in losses and the city of Abbotsford paid the Heat owners $5.5 million to end their contract with the city.
The Heat were also in a very difficult position geographically in the American Hockey League. They were the only team in the Pacific time zone. So even though it was convenient for the Flames to pick up and send down players to Abbotsford, there was a significant cost in travel when the team was playing road games.
Overall interest was also a major issue. With the proximity so close to Vancouver, hockey fans showed more interest with the National Hockey League's Canucks, and only averaged approximately 2,000 fans per game.
According to CBC, one city the Flames might be interested in is Glens Falls, New York. The city which has a population of 14,000 has been the host of the Adirondack Red Wings (American Hockey League affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings from 1979-1999) and the Adirondack Phantoms (American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers since 2009. The Flyers will be moving to Lehigh Valley next season, opening the door for the Flames.
The Heat meanwhile have not finished their 2013-14 American Hockey League season. They are postseason bound and will be in the playoffs starting next week.
Abbotsford currently has a record of 40-25-8 and sit in second place in the West Division with 88 points. Their top players so far this season have been Ben Street and Max Reinhart, who co-lead the Heat with 58 points.