AHL governors approve sale of Rivermen to Canucks

The AHL board of governors approved the sale of the Peoria Rivermen to the Vancouver Canucks' ownership group on Thursday.

The AHL board of governors approved the sale of the Peoria Rivermen to the Vancouver Canucks’ ownership group on Thursday.

The move cements an agreement which first came to light in late March between the St. Louis Blues, previous owners of the Rivermen, and the Aquilini Investment Group.

Vancouver has not owned its own AHL affiliate in recent years, instead signing affiliation agreements with the Manitoba Moose (2001-11) and the Chicago Wolves (2011-13). The Canucks’ two-year deal with the Wolves expires at the end of this season.

There have been rampant rumours that the Canucks will move the Rivermen to Abbotsford, displacing the Calgary Flames-owned Heat franchise, which would then relocate to Utica, N.Y.

But whether that speculation comes to fruition is unclear at this point. According to the AHL’s press release on the Rivermen sale, “No determination has been made relative to the operation of the franchise for the 2013-14 season.”

Additionally, Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman said in a radio interview on Team 1040 on Wednesday that he was on the East Coast “looking at some potential alternatives or places for us to locate our farm team once we complete the purchase of the Peoria Rivermen.”

The AHL board also approved the relocation of the Houston Aeros to Des Moines, Iowa for the 2013-14 season. The Aeros are owned by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.