Preparations are moving full steam ahead for the new Las Vegas NHL franchise.
The organization recently announced the addition of Murray Craven as Vice President of Hockey Operations, and he is tasked with helping General Manager George McPhee set up the franchise, including putting together the team’s minor league system.
In a podcast interview with Ken Boehlke and Dana Lane of Sin Bin Vegas (not affiliated with The Sin Bin,) Craven says an American Hockey League affiliate will be announced by Christmas.
“It’s a process,” Craven said. “it’s a little bit tricky. The AHL is such a good league now, probably the second best league in the world. It’s such a big part of what teams are now.”
It is not known where the AHL affiliate would be, but the leading contenders stand to be cities in close proximity to Las Vegas; Fresno, CA, Salt Lake City, UT and Reno, NV. Craven says the AHL team will not be located in Vegas. The Sin Bin’s Scotty Wazz broke down the possibilities in this article, written in June: https://thesinbin.net/looking-ahead-to-las-vegas-ahl-affiliation-possibilities/.
Currently, the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies in the Salt Lake City market, and have been the subject of some speculation that they are the team to move leagues. Reno was recently on the ECHL’s list of “future markets,” but has since been removed. However, that does not mean the dream of hockey being played in Reno is dead, especially ECHL hockey. The Reno-Gazette Journal reports that the ECHL could be coming there in 2017-18, according to the Reno Puck Club. According to the article, the Reno Events Center would need ice-making equipment to be installed before hockey could be played.
The AHL will need to expand by one club with the addition of Vegas in the NHL, and would need to be ready for hockey next October. Should Fresno, CA becomes Vegas’ AHL affiliate, that would give the AHL six California-based teams.
Of interest to ECHL fans, Craven says the Vegas franchise will “share” affiliates, but did not allude to where or with whom the franchise will pair with, nor did he give a time table for when an announcement would be made. He did say that they will have a “fully functional” farm system on day one.
To listen to the Sin Bin Vegas podcast with Murray Craven, listen here: https://sinbin.vegas/sinbin-vegas-podcast-35-murray-craven/
When the franchise starts playing games next October, it will be the first regular-season games played in Vegas since the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers went dark following the 2014 season, and officially called it quits in January 2015.
Stay with The Sin Bin for the latest on the ramifications the Las Vegas NHL franchise affects teams throughout minor pro hockey.