Monarchs will be leaving NH if Kings get approval, ECHL team the likely substitute
January 24. 2015 5:38PM
The Los Angeles Kings plan to move the Manchester Monarchs to California next season if they receive approval as early as today, according to a top Monarchs executive.
"We have known for quite a while this could potentially happen," Matt Welch, executive vice president of the Monarchs, said Tuesday. "We've been in the loop for some time. We (Monarchs) are planning to host a press conference after the Super Bowl, the first week in February, to address our fans about the immediate future of hockey in Manchester."
But Manchester apparently won't be without pro hockey next season.
The Ontario Reign of the East Coast Hockey League, another team owned by the Kings, could move to the Queen City and play its home games at the Verizon Wireless Arena beginning next fall, Welch said.
The ECHL is one level below the American Hockey League, of which Manchester has been a member since 2001.
Darren Abbott, president of the Manchester Monarchs, and Tim Bechert, the arena's general manager, would not comment on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Kings referred comment to the AHL, which didn't respond to a request for comment.
Mayor Ted Gatsas, who on Monday said he wasn't aware of any pending team move, could not be reached for comment.
Therese Everett, director of marketing at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., said she couldn't comment on whether the arena might be getting a new hockey team, as some publications have reported.
A call to the Ontario Reign hockey team wasn't returned.
As early as Sunday, the AHL's Board of Governors could vote in Utica, N.Y., to move the Monarchs, the Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks), Norfolk, Va. (Anaheim Ducks), Oklahoma City (Edmonton Oilers) and Glens Falls, N.Y. (Calgary Flames) to the West Coast. For now, the Portland Pirates are remaining in New England, but its parent team, the Arizona Coyotes, is also reportedly interested in moving the Pirates to the Grand Canyon State. The St. John's Ice Caps (Winnipeg Jets) could also be on the move.
A 75 percent approval by the AHL Board of Governors is needed to make any move official.
The fact that five or more NHL teams are looking to move their AHL franchises to the West Coast at the same time should increase the odds for relocating teams.
On Tuesday, Welch wouldn't go as far to say Manchester's exit to California is a done deal. But he did disclose that the entire Monarchs staff, including the people working in hockey operations and in the front office, have been notified that the Monarchs' potential move for the start of next season could be official as early as Sunday.
Cost of call-ups
One of the main reasons the NHL teams want their AHL affiliates nearby is because of the ease and cost of call-ups. In many cases whenever the Kings want to promote a player from Manchester, it usually takes a day for that player to catch a flight and travel across the country.
In this case, since Ontario is about 35 miles away from Los Angeles, the player called up from the AHL to the Kings could be at the Staples Center within the hour, at a far