American Hockey League Coming to Bakersfield

Bakersfield will be one of five California cities to gain an American Hockey League franchise next year, as that league expands west to form its new Pacific Division.

The long-rumored realignment was confirmed Thursday in San Jose. AHL president David Andrews said fans will immediately notice the increased level of play that’s characteristic of hockey’s highest minor league. “The AHL has a very rich history – a special place in our sport,” he said. “It has served as a stepping stone for players, for coaches and officials.” He said over 100 graduates are enshrined in the hall of fame, and 90 percent of current NHL players made their way through the AHL. Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, said it was a great day for hockey in California. “It’s really the efforts of our franchises in California – and this becomes a reality because of those efforts,” he said. The new Bakersfield team will begin play next season. They will be joined in the new division by fellow ECHL markets Stockton and Ontario, along with new teams in San Jose and San Diego. It not known yet if the Bakersfield team will remain the Condors after the transition, or if the team will retain its colors.

– Anthony Pollreisz