The St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate is the Springfield Thunderbirds, who are based in Springfield, Massachussetts, and play their home games at the MassMutual Center.
But, in my opinion, St. Louis’ AHL affiliate should be closer to them, like, say, Kansas City, Missouri. Here’s why.
Let’s face it, travel doesn’t need to be longer on purpose — especially when it comes to traveling to and from St. Louis, Mo., and Springfield, Mass. I understand travel is a part of the game, but when the Blues need a player or two to fill in for injured and/or absent players, they’d have to wait half a day at the earliest.
Aside from sports, I have a passion for aviation. I learned that the average nonstop flight from St. Louis to Springfield, Mass. is two and a half hours. For a flight with a layover, it’ll be at least four hours and 25 minutes. I’m not sure if the NHL players suffer from jet lag, but I’m pretty sure some AHL players’ sleep schedules will be shifted. Though, each player’s situation is different. If they’re accustomed to traveling, then they likely won’t have trouble sleeping.
I went to the Iowa Wild vs. Tucson Roadrunners game at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines this past Friday. I noticed two things: 1) The Wild’s offense propelled them to a 5-0 shutout victory, and 2) The Wild’s setup was so great and seamless.
Like Minnesota, St. Louis could benefit from having a team closer to them. It’s virtually impossible, but let’s say Blues’ AHL affiliate was based in Des Moines, Iowa, the nonstop flights to and from St. Louis and Des Moines will be around one hour and five minutes. For flights with layovers, they’ll be at least three hours and 30 minutes. That’s a shorter flight, which will lead to faster flight times and player recalls.
Minnesota and Iowa share the same ownership group of Minnesota Sports and Entertainment. Minnesota benefited from having an AHL affiliate, Iowa, who was closer to them. Iowa was originally the Houston Aeros in Houston, Texas, from 1994 to 2013.
Springfield plays in the Atlantic Division, while Kansas City would play in the Central Division. It’d make more sense if a Kansas City, Mo.-based team was the Blues’ AHL affiliate, geography- and travel-wise.
Since the Blues don’t own the Thunderbirds, they can’t move them but they can acquire a new team in a new location. But it won’t be in Chicago because they’ve tried that once with the Chicago Wolves, and they failed following a three-year affiliation agreement from 2013 to 2016.
When the Blues’ affiliation agreement with the Thunderbirds ends in 2025, they’re free to stay or go in Springfield, Mass. If they select Kansas City, they’d have to come up with a team name like, maybe, the Kansas City Kings...the Kansas City All-Stars...or the Missouri Masters? I don’t know, but I thought I’d throw some names out there that aren’t the Chiefs, Royals, or Mavericks.
What do you think?