The St. Louis Blues have notified the Peoria Civic Center that they are shutting down the Peoria Rivermen at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Information is still coming in as to whether the team has been sold or are just being moved, but the Peoria Journal Star are reporting the following:
“It’s not legal and it’s not binding because it isn’t in ink on paper yet, but yes, they are gone,” Civic Center general manager Jim Wetherington said Friday afternoon. “They have emailed me what they are sending in writing.
“The Rivermen are leaving. They are gone. That’s really all it says. The Blues have exercised their option in the lease to end the agreement.”
The Blues own the AHL’s Rivermen. They were part of the sales package purchased by St. Louis beer distributor Tom Stillman last year when he bought the NHL’s Blues.
The Blues had two more seasons left on their Rivermen lease with the Civic Center. They will pay a $90,000 penalty to the building to opt out early.
“We look forward to hockey of some sort next season,” Wetherington said. “We need to get to work right away on what that will be.”
It has been rumored that the St. Louis Blues have been in talks with the Chicago Wolves and were looking to sell the Rivermen. While it is not yet known if the Blues have a buyer lined up to buy the Rivermen, it is clear that as of this moment the Blues are looking to make a major change to their system.
More as we have it.
LET’S GO BLUES!
Multiple sources confirm St. Louis has agreed to sell the franchise to the Vancouver Canucks and will cut ties at the conclusion of this season.
Sources say it no longer makes financial sense for the Blues to continue owning the Rivermen.
The Canucks have been rumored to be looking to purchase an AHL affiliate with the idea of moving the team closer to Vancouver. They’ve been affiliated with the Chicago Wolves for the last two seasons.
There was talk of Vancouver and Calgary having discussions regarding the potential sale of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Flames. Sources say those talks ended several days ago.
The sale of the Rivermen opens the door for the Blues to partner with the Wolves, one of the more successful AHL franchises the last several years. Chicago is second in the league in attendance this season averaging more than 8,000 fans per game. Peoria averages just over 5,000 fans per game.
Chicago and Vancouver had an agreement that was set to expire at the end of the 2012-2013 season. The Wolves were once the AHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers from 2001-2011.
Obviously any player currently playing in Peoria and under contact with the Blues will remain their property.
Peoria has been an AHL affiliate of the Blues since 2005.
Any official comment from St. Louis or Vancouver may not come until after the transaction has been legally finalized.