The Vancouver Canucks have officially announced the new name of their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. The Canucks organization revealed the new brand identity on Wednesday July 14th. Johnny Canuck will be the team’s primary logo when they begin their inaugural AHL season this fall. The team will be based out of the 7,000 seat Abbotsford Centre where they’ll share the venue with the Fraser Valley Bandits of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). However, this franchise won’t be the first AHL team to call the Abbotsford Centre home.
From 2009-2014, the Calgary Flames had their affiliate in town, the Abbotsford Heat. However, the team relocated after the 2013-14 season due to multiple reasons including financial, league geography and lack of fan support due to being an arch rival’s affiliate. Prior to the move to Abbotsford, Vancouver previously had their affiliate based out of Utica, NY where they were known as the Utica Comets. The Comets will live on with new colors and be affiliated with the New Jersey Devils. While the Comets will live on, the Canucks brought over General Manager Ryan Johnson and Head Coach Trent Cull to Abbotsford.
Head Coach Trent Cull on move to Abbotsford
“You know what, we’ve had a great staff, we’ve got a great group, change is good sometimes,” Cull said. “It allows different people in with I think different views and stuff and it makes for excitement.”
Cull explained how the team enjoying each other’s company and working hard together helps a lot.
Being based in Abbotsford, Canucks fans will have much easier access to check out prospects and catch a game for more affordable prices than the NHL. Cull touched on how there will be a lot of excited people once the team starts play.
“I can’t wait to get there, I know the people will, you know it’s going to take us a little time, but they’ll have some pride in their team,” Cull said. “That’s one thing we take pride as a staff and a group, we’re going to work hard so win or lose hopefully the fans will be proud of us.”
Abbotsford will play in the AHL’s Pacific Division of the Western Conference. Teams in Abbotsford’s Division include Bakersfield Condors, San Diego Gulls, Ontario Reign, Stockton Heat, San Jose Barracuda, Tucson Roadrunners, Henderson Silver Knights and Colorado Eagles. In 2022, the Pacific Division will see the Seattle Kraken’s affiliate based out of Palm Springs, CA join. While Abbotsford won’t have the issue of travel when Vancouver calls a player up, they will have more travel themselves due to their location. Abbotsford is the only Canadian team in the Pacific Division. The next closest opponent for Abbotsford is the Stockton Heat in California, a total of 916 miles away.