KMOV (HockeySTL) -- On Tuesday night, the Blues announced news regarding the future of their American Hockey League affiliate team. Beginning next season, the Peoria Rivermen will no longer be the Blues’ AHL affiliate; instead, the team will be affiliated with the Chicago Wolves.
The Blues announced they reached a three-year agreement with the Wolves. The AHL Board of Governors didn’t give their approval of the Blues’ sale of the Rivermen to the Vancouver Canucks until last Thursday, so it took some time for the Blues to move forward with the process. The Rivermen have been in the AHL since the 2005-06 season.
St. Louis beer distributor Tom Stillman, along with a group of local investors, purchased the Blues and the Rivermen last May. Stillman partnered with the Canucks, and announced on March 29 that the Rivermen had been sold, pending AHL approval.
The Peoria Journal Star reported that the Blues had to pay a fee of $90,000 for opting out of their lease with the Peoria Civic Center. The Blues had two years remaining on the lease.
The Blues retain ownership of their players, but they will report to Chicago instead of Peoria next season.
The transaction allows Stillman to allocate more money to the NHL club, instead of spending on operating costs to keep the Rivermen active in Peoria. The Blues are still responsible for their AHL player contracts, but will no longer be paying to operate an AHL team.
There was talk of Vancouver moving the Rivermen to Abbotsford, B.C., but the Calgary Flames’ affiliate team currently inhabits Abbotsford. Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal Star reported on Tuesday that there may be some interest from Vancouver in keeping their AHL team in Peoria. According to Eminian, the Canucks have until May 13 to decide on a destination for their AHL team.
Peoria had a 33-35-5 record this past season, placing them last in the Midwest Division. The Rivermen have not made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season. Since joining the AHL, the Rivermen have never advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs.
The Blues’ new affiliate Wolves joined the AHL in 2001. The Wolves play their home games at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, which is about 300 miles north of St. Louis. The Wolves were formerly affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers for ten seasons. The Thrashers have since moved their franchise to Winnipeg. The Wolves have never had a losing season, making the postseason eight times. They have won the Calder Cup twice (2002, 2008).
The current Rivermen team played their last game in the Civic Center on Sunday evening, which resulted in a 3-0 loss. After the game, players met with fans and signed autographs, saying their final goodbyes to their supporters.