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 American Hockey League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 10, 2021 - American Hockey League (AHL)


BASEBALL

Triple-A East League: The new Triple-A East League started its 2021 season this weekend with 20 teams aligned in a six-team Northeast and two seven-team Midwest and Southeast divisions. The league includes the 14 teams from last year's Triple-A International League with the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox relocating to become the Worcester (MA) Red Sox. Four teams were also added from last year's Pacific Coast League, one team (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp) was promoted from the Double-A Southern League, and the former independent St. Paul Saints were added from the American Association. The league's Buffalo Bisons are starting the 2021 season playing home games in Trenton (NJ) since Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays will play home games in Buffalo starting in June.

Triple-A West League: The new Triple-A West started its 2021 season this weekend with ten teams aligned in five-team East and West divisions. The league includes 9 of the 16 teams from the former Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL), plus the Sugar Land Skeeters, formerly of the independent Atlantic League. Of the other seven PCL teams, four moved to the Triple-A East, the San Antonio Missions and Wichita Wind Surge (formerly the New Orleans Baby Cakes) moved to the Double-A Central League, while the Fresno Grizzlies moved to the Low-A West League.

Double-A Central League: The new Double-A Central League started its 2021 season this week with ten teams aligned in five-team North and South divisions. The league includes the eight teams that comprised the former Double-A Texas League, plus the San Antonio Missions and Wichita Wind Surge (formerly the New Orleans Baby Cakes) that were demoted from the former Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Double-A Northeast League: The new Double-A Northeast League started its 2021 season this week with 12 teams aligned in six-team Northeast and Southwest divisions. The league is comprised of 11 teams from the former Double-A Eastern League, plus the independent Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ) team that replaced the Eastern League's Trenton (NJ) Thunder team, which was not offered an affiliation and moved to the new short-season Major League Baseball Draft League.

Double-A South League: The new Double-A South League started play this week with eight teams aligned in four-team South and North divisions. All teams had been part of the former ten-team Double-A Southern League with the Mobile BayBears moving to Huntsville (AL) as the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The Southern League's Jackson (TN) Generals were not offered an affiliation, while the Southern League's Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp moved up to the Triple-A East League.

High-A West League: The new High-A West League started its 2021 season this week with six teams from the former eight-team short-season Class-A Northwest League. The Vancouver Canadians will start the season playing home games in Hillsboro (OR), home of the league's Hillsboro Hops, due to cross-border travel restrictions. After losing their affiliations, the former Northwest League's Salem-Keizer Volcanoes moved to the new independent Mavericks Independent Baseball League and the Northwest League's Boise Hawks moved to the new independent Pioneer Baseball League.

High-A Central League: The new High-A Central League started its 2021 season this weekend with 12 teams from the former 16-team low Class-A Midwest League. The other four former Midwest League teams moved to other leagues: the Bowling Green (KY) Hot Rods moved to the new affiliated High-A East League; the Kane County (IL) Cougars moved to the independent American Association; and the Burlington (IA) Bees and Clinton (IA) LumberKings moved to the summer-collegiate Prospect League.

High-A East League: The new High-A East League started its 2021 season this week with 12 teams aligned in a five-team North and a seven-team South division. Three teams came from the former short-season Class-A New York-Penn League; two from the former high Class-A Carolina League; one from the former low Class-A Midwest League; and six from the former low Class-A South Atlantic League including the Jersey Shore BlueClaws that were renamed from the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Low-A East League: The new Low-A East League started play this week with 12 teams aligned in four-team North, Central and South divisions. The league is comprised of five teams from the former low Class-A South Atlantic League and seven teams from the former high Class-A Carolina League, including the Fredericksburg (VA) Nationals that were the former Potomac Nationals based in Woodbridge (VA).

Low-A Southeast: The new Low-A Southeast League started play this week with ten teams aligned in a four-team East and a six-team West division. All ten teams came from the former 12-team high Class-A Florida State League (FSL) including the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels that were formerly the Fort Myers Miracle. Two former FSL teams called the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Florida Firedogs (North Port/Sarasota) were not offered 2021 affiliations.

Low-A West League: The new Low-A West League started its 2021 season this week with eight teams aligned in four-team North and South divisions. Seven of the teams came from the former high Class-A California League, while the league's Fresno Grizzlies came from the former Triple-A Pacific Coast League and replaced the California League's Lancaster JetHawks team that was not offered an affiliation.

American Association: Due to cross-border travel restrictions, the American Association's only Canadian team called the Winnipeg Goldeyes plans to start the 2021 season playing its home schedule in Jackson (TN). The city was home to the Jackson Generals of the Double-A Southern League since the 1998 season, but the team was not offered an affiliation during the recent restructuring of Minor League Baseball. The Generals' ownership has talked of reorganizing a new Southern League for the 2022 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced two teams called the Clermont (FL) Crusaders and the Snow Hill (NC) Skyfish have been added for the 2021-22 season.

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced two teams called the Ocean 11 NYC (New York City) and the Richmond Roadrunners have been added as expansion teams.

Women's Basketball Development Association: After sitting out the 2020 spring-summer season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the WBDA is preparing for a 2021 season. The league currently lists a 16-team Eastern Conference and 17-team Western Conference, along with one team each in a Pacific Conference (Honolulu), Canada Conference (Toronto) and Mexico Conference (San Luis Potosi).

FOOTBALL

The Spring League: The TSL elite professional football development league started its six-week 2021 season this week with eight teams aligned in two four-team divisions. The North Division teams called the Alphas, Aviators, Conquerors and Linemen will use Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as its hub, while South Division teams called the Blues, Generals, Jousters and Sea Lions will use Rice Stadium in Houston as its hub.

XFL: Not much has been heard about the XFL's recently announced partnership with the Canadian Football League, but the XFL might not restart play in 2022 and collaboration between the two leagues could start in the 2023 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL approved the relocation of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks' affiliate from Utica (NY) to Abbotsford (British Columbia), about 45 miles southeast of Vancouver, for the 2021-22 season. The league also approved the relocation of the New Jersey Devils' affiliate from Binghamton (NY) to Utica for the 2021-22 season. The Abbotsford team is expected to get a new name, while the new Utica team is expected to retain the Comets name. The Calgary Flames had a previous AHL affiliate called the Abbotsford Heat for five seasons (2009-14) and the New Jersey Devils had a previous AHL affiliate called the Utica Devils for six seasons (1987-1993).

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The PWHPA announced it will hold a seven-day six-game Secret Dream Gap Tour event in Calgary (Alberta) from May 24 to 30, 2021. Participating teams will include the organization's three Canadian teams-Team Scotiabank (Calgary), Team Sonnet (Toronto) and Team Bauer (Montreal). The PWHPA has two U.S.-based teams called Team Adidas (Minnesota) and Team Women's Sports Foundation (New Hampshire) that have played events in New York and Chicago.

United States Hockey League: After sitting out the 2020-21 season due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the Madison (WI) Capitols of the Tier-I junior-level USHL will return for the 2021-22 season.

SOCCER

Arena Soccer League: The recently announced ASL is another proposed new indoor soccer league looking start play in April 2022 with ten teams. Two teams called the Philadelphia Kixx and Chicago Sting are listed and the league has expressed interest in Detroit for one of its teams.

National Women's Soccer League: The proposed new 2022 NWSL expansion team targeted for Sacramento could be moving to San Diego. The investor who pulled out of the men's Major League Soccer expansion team in Sacramento and planned to operate a Sacramento-based NWSL team apparently owns land in San Diego and is pushing for the move.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The Spokane (WA) Public School Board approved plans for a new downtown soccer stadium that is expected to be home to a Division-III USL League One franchise.

League1 Ontario: The Division-III provincial pro-am League1 Ontario did not play a 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and announced this week a potential start for its 2021 season has been pushed back to July 2. The league traditionally plays from early May through July. The League1 Ontario Men's Division is up to 21 teams after adding 5 new teams earlier this year, while the Women's Division is up to 15 teams after adding 4 new teams earlier this year.

OTHER

Tewaaraton Lacrosse League: The new TLL men's Canadian Junior-A indoor lacrosse league for players age 22 and under announced this week its inaugural 2021 season will be an eight-day round-robin tournament in August at a location still to be announced. The TLL will have four Ontario-based teams called the Burlington Black Hawks, Oshawa Knights, Six Nation Arrows (Ohsweken) and Tri City Havoc (Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph). The TLL will play under modified National Lacrosse League rules.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.


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