San Diego welcomes professional hockey
Ducks’ minor league team to play at Valley View Casino Center
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
The Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League have announced plans to move their minor league team to San Diego this fall. The team will play in the American Hockey League’s newly formed Pacific Division, which will consist of five teams from the state of California. This move will make things much easier in terms of travel for players who get cycled between the professional and minor league team, as the Ducks’ minor league affiliate currently plays its games in faroff Norfolk, Virginia.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the new team will move into the Valley View Casino Center and likely practice in the city of Poway.This marks the return of professional hockey to the city of San Diego, which has been lacking a team since the San Diego Gulls folded in 2006.
While Southern California certainly lacks the cold and icy conditions that are associated with the sport, the area has seen a recent increase in hockey fans due to the success of the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
San Diego has a fairly rich hockey history, dating back to the fabled San Diego Skyhawks who debuted in 1944. Bob Murray, the general manager of the Ducks, alluded to this when announcing the move.
“San Diego is a very good hockey town,” Murray said. “Hockey’s been played there for a very long time.”
Bringing a team to San Diego will surely spark interest in a younger generation who do not remember the Gulls but have grown up watching the Kings hoist their Stanley Cups and the Ducks consistently finish near the top of the NHL’s Western Conference.
Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli shared their excitement about the move as well.
“Today is a landmark day for hockey in California,” the couple said in a joint statement. “We’ve long been excited by the idea of San Diego, which has a successful track record for supporting hockey, as our AHL home. We are extremely pleased and proud to bring hockey back to the market.”
Hockey fans in San Diego are especially excited about the move, including sophomore Caitlin Foote, a native of hockey crazed Nova Scotia, Canada.
“Hockey being brought to San Diego is a really wonderful thing for the community,” Foote said. “Hockey has been something that has brought my community together back home, and being able to experience that here in my new home with my friends is something I am extremely excited for.”
The move will also provide the Valley View Casino Center – a venue which once played home to the NBA’s Clippers – with another professional sports team. The new hockey team will join the San Diego Sockers of the Major Arena Soccer League and the San Diego Aviators of World TeamTennis as the only teams to call the arena home.
The next order of business will be deciding on a name for the team. Some have suggested that the team should use the name Gulls again to honor the city’s past hockey history, while others want to start fresh with a new name. The current name of the team in Norfolk is the Admirals, a name which could stick around and serve as an homage to San Diego as a naval town.
There is a poll on the San Diego Union-Tribune website right now which allows readers to vote for the name. The poll features both Gulls and Admirals as options as well as Ducklings, a more humorous option which pokes fun at the fact that the team will serve as a minor league affiliate of the Ducks.
No matter what they call the team, the fact of the matter is that San Diego will become home to a professional hockey team for the first time in almost 10 years. Given their status as a minor league team, expect tickets to be fairly cheap and affordable for college students.
The games will be played at a nearby location that is easily accessible, and the team will allow hockey fans to finally watch their favorite sport in person without having to make the drive to Anaheim or downtown Los Angeles.
For those who have been waiting for years to watch a hockey game in San Diego, those who want to learn more about the sport, and even those who just want something to get them away from campus for a while, this new team will provide plenty of opportunities to do so.