Canucks announce affiliation agreement with Utica

The Vancouver Canucks have announced a new affiliation agreement with Utica of the American Hockey League.

The AHL franchise will move from Peoria, Ill. to Utica, N.Y. for the start of the 2013-14 season. The team will become the Comets and will play in the Utica Memorial Auditorium under the management of Mohawk Valley Garden.

"We look forward to a new AHL affiliation and the development of our prospects in Utica, New York," said Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis in a statement Friday. "There was a strong interest in bringing an AHL team back to Utica and real commitment to provide a positive environment for the growth and success of players in the Canucks system."

Mohawk Valley Garden is led by former NHL goaltender Robert Esche and long- time AHL owner Frank DuRoss.

"As someone who benefitted greatly from playing in the AHL on the way to the NHL, I know how important the AHL experience is to player development," said Esche, who played for the Coyotes and Flyers in the NHL. "We will make this a top notch experience for both the Canucks and their prospects."

Utica previously served as an AHL affiliate for the New Jersey Devils from 1987-93.