AHL approves Pacific Division, with five California teams, for 2015-16

Luc Robitaille: 'This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come.'

Bruce Bennett

The AHL is headed West.

The NHL’s top development league unveiled the new Pacific Division, including five teams based California and those minor-league franchises for the Kings and Ducks, which will begin play in the 2015-16 season.

"We’re thrilled to bring the AHL to California," said David Andrews, the president and chief executive officer for the AHL during Thursday’s news conference. "The AHL has a very rich history … and a special place in our sport."

The Ducks will purchase the Norfolk Admirals franchise and relocate it from Virginia to San Diego. The Kings’ squad in Manchester, NH, will move to Ontario, Calif.

Other AHL teams in the Pacific Division will be located in the California cities of San Jose (Sharks), Bakersfield (Oilers) and Stockton (Flames).

Anaheim general manager Bob Murray quoted Ducks legend Teemu Selanne in saying the day was ‘unbelievable’ for hockey in California.

Andrews added that 90 percent of all NHL players have taken part in the AHL and that ‘transition is important for our sport.’

Also, 100 graduates of the AHL are currently in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"This is a wonderful growth opportunity for the game of hockey in the Western region and it will have a tremendous impact for years to come," said Luc Robitaille, president of business operations for the Kings.

Full division alignments and schedules will be determined at a later date.