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With new AHL Pacific Division, Mitchell ensures B-Sens safety

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The American Hockey League announced Thursday that five teams will move to California for the 2015-16 season. The Flames, Ducks, Kings, Sharks, and Oilers AHL affiliates will now be located in five California cities to form the new Pacific Division. As a result Glens Falls, Norfolk, Manchester, Worcester, and Oklahoma City will all lose their AHL teams. Binghamton, being one of, if not the smallest AHL market, is always the first city mentioned regarding teams moving cities, but Tom Mitchell guarantees that won't be the case for a long time.

In September, knowing this announcement was coming, Mitchell rushed to get an extension with the affiliation agreement with Ottawa done. The B-Sens will be the Ottawa Senators top minor league affiliate at least through the 2018-19 season. Mitchell hopes and expects that another extension will be negotiated easily beyond even that.

As for the fans in the five cities the AHL is leaving behind, Mitchell feels sorry for them knowing that Binghamton fans would not be happy if Ottawa were to leave Broome County, much like the Rangers did in the late 1990s.

While he says it's tough to see cities lose their teams, Mitchell says the move makes sense and is a good thing for the league. The move will bring NHL teams' AHL affiliates closer, making it easier to recall players. As for other western teams who's affiliates are still stuck in the east, such as the Vancouver Canucks and their affiliate the Utica Comets, Mitchell says that anything can happen.

"There's nothing there that I'm aware of, but anything's possible," Mitchell said. "I know if I was running an NHL team, I wouldn't want my minor league team to be too far away because it's a valuable part of the whole plan. There are only 30 NHL teams and there are only 30 American Hockey League teams and we're extremely lucky to have one of them here."