Monday, Aug. 10, 2009 | 6:58 p.m.
The Las Vegas Wranglers are no longer affiliated with the NHL's Calgary Flames.
New Wranglers head coach and general manager Ryan Mougenel confirmed Monday evening that Las Vegas has ended a nearly six-year partnership with the Flames to join the Phoenix Coyotes organization.
"Calgary has been great to work with and I know coach (Glen) Gulutzan always said great things about the Flames when he was here too," Mougenel said. "But both sides felt that it just wasn't financially viable anymore to align us with an American Hockey League team all the way in Vancouver."
This year would have been the inaugural season for the Flames' new AHL squad, the Abbotsford Heat, which moved from Quad Cities, Ill.
The cost of travel between Abbotsford and Las Vegas, as well as immigration issues from Canada, played large roles in the decision to separate.
"It's important to be fiscally responsible in this economy and I think this is the right move," Mougenel said. "As an added bonus, fans now have an NHL team within proximity to Las Vegas so they can really feel a part of the whole organization and watch players develop through the system."
Las Vegas' switch to an affiliation with Phoenix also means that the Wranglers will have close ties with the Coyotes' AHL team, the San Antonio Rampage.
The Rampage finished last in the AHL West Division with a 36-38-6 record, but Mougenel believes that San Antonio general manager Brad Treliving has the team headed in the right direction.
"My goal is to get guys better and develop them to the next level, not just fill my roster," Mougenel said. "Brad and everyone else in the Phoenix organization shares the same philosophy and it's important to align yourself with people like that."
Although the San Antonio franchise is stable, there is an ongoing legal battle over the ownership of the Coyotes and an arena lease in Glendale.
A bankruptcy court judge set an auction date of Sept. 10 for bidders including Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and controversial Blackberry mogul Jim Balsillie.
"I'm not overly concerned with any of that," Mougenel said. "We'll be dealing mostly with San Antonio and while I certainly hope everything gets settled in Phoenix, whatever happens will not have a major, direct impact on us."