The major problem of having a minor league hockey team in a major city like SF is the players don't exactly make the kind of money that they do in the pros. Trying to live in the Bay Area, let alone in SF, is a difficult task to say the least and something extremely expensive if the team tries to take care of it.
I'd be really shocked if a minor league team tries to start up in SF again given these issues. We'll probably see one in the East Bay or back in the Central Valley again before that.
The COLs is difficult but not a huge problem - you could always find a hockey fan willing to give somebody a break on rent.
The bigger problem is the ridiculous terms the Cow Palace imposes on tenants. Pay a ton in rent to play in a horrible arena in a horrible part of town, and alienate the fans by charging them a fortune for parking and concessions. The Bulls lost $2 million, which mysteriously is also how much they had to pay in improvements to the place.
I'm totally convinced there's enough fans in SF or near SF (eg San Mateo County) to support a minor league team, but I think the Cow Palace is done as a hockey arena. It needs to be somewhere newer and better that people actually want to go to.
I'm not sure if that's sarcasm, but it doesn't surprise me. Despite the parent clubs being on ice rivals the minor league teams like Manchester and Worcester have a very good working relationship with several front office people working for either team at one point, or the various crossover promotions like setting up trips for each teams season ticket holders to see a game at each others arenas. The Ontario deal is most likely only temporary, and as the season goes on you will see those five sharks players filter off to teams.
Anderson to AHL (while healing); the other 4 to Ontario.
Really happy for those guys. They are going to have a great experience in Ontario. They are a top of the table team and have fantastic attendance (best in the league). It will probably be more fun for them playing there than in Worcester.