The Kings Ahead of the IHL’s Failure
Reports say that six IHL teams will move into the AHL for the 2001-2001 season. While I for one will miss the IHL, the new AHL will give teams a great league to develop young players. At the head of this move is the Los Angeles Kings Organization.
Since the demise of the Phoenix RoadRunners, the Kings have gradually steered their prospects away from the IHL and towards the AHL. The AHL had traditionally been a proving ground for young NHL hopefuls while the IHL was built for has-beens and never-will-be’s with a few prospects sprinkled in. I personally lived in an IHL town and was able to see alot of NHL players in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Teams like St. Louis were able to build solid IHL franchises and have players who were used to playing an NHL-style game just a bus ride away. The Kings were able to do this with an agreement with the Long Beach Ice Dogs, formerly of the IHL. When the Ice Dogs moved out, the Kings focused solely on the AHL for player development.
The Kings seemed to see this coming. An agreement with Springfield preceeded an agreement with Lowell. Now the Kings will own and operate their own AHL team, just in time for the development of this “super” minor league. The Kings may miss the chance to move older players into an IHL-type league (like Boucher this season and Modry last), but to have their perverbial ducks in a row like this just in time for this potential new AHL is another feather in the cap of the Kings.
Look for the Kings to let Matthieu Schneider go the way of free agency. He has likely priced himself out of staying with the Kings and with the development of Andreas Lilja and Lubomir Visnovsky, the Kings feel they can use the money better elsewhere.