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Steelheads upgrade? New Seattle NHL team looks to Boise for AHL team

The Idaho Steelheads launched in 1997 in Downtown Boise as an affiliate of the West Coast Hockey League. It later moved up to the East Coast Hockey League — and change could again be in the air.

A new, unnamed NHL team will launch in Seattle in 2021. Along with the launch, NHL Seattle (as it’s known for now) is looking for an affiliate team. The two top candidates? Palm Springs, California — and Boise.

“It’s a really big deal and we want to create the perfect environment for our hockey staff to develop players,” NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said in a radio interview on KJR-AM. “We’re still doing an analysis of the two markets, but I will acknowledge those are the two markets.”

The American Hockey League serves as the developmental league for the NHL – just one step below the top professional hockey league in the country.

Right now, Palm Springs doesn’t host an arena capable of hosting hockey, but a 12,000-seat arena is in the planning stages and could be open by 2021 – the target date for the AHL team to launch.

Idaho Steelheads president Eric Trapp told the Idaho Press in February Seattle NHL officials contacted the team.

Idaho Sports Properties owns the Steelheads. Some, but not all NHL teams own their AHL affiliate teams. The Steelheads are currently an affiliate of the Dallas Stars, which also uses the (Austin) Texas Stars as its AHL team.

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