Since 2013, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues has been the Chicago Wolves. As early as next year, that may no longer be the case. Instead, the Blues may take a step toward building their brand on the west side of Missouri.
According to Lou Korac, Blues beat writer for NHL.com, the Blues plan to move their AHL affiliation to Kansas City as early as next season. Korac says Lamar Hunt Jr., son of Kansas City Chiefs founder, Lamar Hunt, will own the affiliate along with former St. Louis Blues defenseman Tom Tilley.
This is a move that has bubbled beneath the surface for months. With the Blues’ three-year agreement with the Wolves expiring before the 2016-2017 season, the two sides agreed to a new contract. However, when the parties announced it was only a one-year deal, it became clear the marriage was not viewed as a long-term solution.
The Blues have had a unique arrangement with the Wolves. St. Louis had no ownership stake in the Chicago franchise, but had a working role in decisions it made. For instance, the Blues had some impact on coaching decisions for the Wolves, as those coaches were charged with the development of Blues prospects during their time in Chicago.
When rumors began regarding a potential NHL expansion team in Las Vegas, some wondered whether the Wolves would seek to pair its affiliation with that new franchise. Now that the Vegas Golden Knights are officially set to begin their existence in 2017, that pairing would seem to be a likely fit.
While it has not been made official, Korac’s sources tell him the deal for the Blues new affiliate is close to being a done deal. Kansas City could host the new affiliate franchise in the Sprint Center, which opened in downtown Kansas City in 2007. The Blues are familiar with the location, having played several exhibition games there in recent years. Conversations surrounding expansion have often included the Sprint Center as a footnote, but the building has never has housed a major professional franchise. The AHL is no NBA or NHL, but in the Blues’ minor-league affiliate, Kansas City may found have the next best thing.
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