There has been a lot of talk recently about several of the West Coast teams moving their AHL affiliates closer to home. I wasn’t expecting it to be this close, but it is closer. The NHL Sharks play 41 home games, and the AHL Sharks play 36.
If you don’t want to do the math, I’ll do it for you; that is 77 games in one building plus pre- and post- seasons. that’s nearly double the games, which does not leave much time for other events at the SAP Center.
Worcester, Massachusetts is the current home of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate and has been home to San Jose’s AHL team for the last 11 years. That means every time a player is called up from Worcester, he has to travel 2,645 miles to get to San Jose. Obviously, if they shared the same building, a call up would result in a lot less travel.
The NHL Sharks currently have 13 players on their roster that played in Worcester at some point.
No other NHL team shares an arena with their AHL affiliate. The closest thing to it is with Toronto — the Maple Leafs share the same city with their AHL team, the Marlies, but they play in different arenas.
I would have to think that this would only be temporary. I’d think that the AHL Sharks would find a new California home to settle into. They could either build a new one or take over some place like Oracle Arena once the Warriors move to their new home. Or perhaps the AHL Sharks could even move into the Cow Palace — although ECHL hockey did not seem to work there, so there is nothing that makes me think an AHL team would make much of a difference.
I do not know what is in the future for the Sharks, AHL and NHL, but I do know this, I wouldn’t want to be the scheduling coordinator for the SAP Center next hockey season.