I wonder where those rumors of a jump to the AHL fit into this picture...
The Sharks still have a bunch more years on 10-year lease agreement with DCU/Worcester, so I don't see them moving their AHL franchise until at least that time.
They selected the New England area so the kids could get a lot of practice time in, even if it is "inconvenient" to recall someone to California.
The last time it was considered that the three California NHL teams might want to move their AHL franchises closer, one reason given for *not* doing so would be the added travel (cross country) as there is not the same clumping that a New England-based franchise would have.
Yes, Abbotsford is a start, but you'd have to get Utah, Idaho, Colorado or other more-westernly states/provinces to host teams to make it "decent" travel for any Californian team.
AFAIK, there is no effort by the AHL or the Californian NHL teams to move their *AHL* franchises closer. But all three NHL teams have affiliation agreements with a Californian ECHL franchise now.
Oh believe me, I understand those factors - especially given Abbotsford's poor start, and my belief that they'll be two-and-out just like other Flames affiliates have been in the recent past.
The only reason I brought the AHL rumor up was that people seem to be continuing to circulate a "collapse of the ECHL's National Conference" rumor this year, in which the California teams are theorized to be moving to the AHL.
Personally, I find that one a little bit of a stretch to swallow, for pretty much exactly the reasons you give above... but that hasn't seemed to be enough to completely stamp out the rumors. The concept of the city attempting to buy out Baby Reinsdorf would complicate things even MORE, even if there were any reality to any AHL thoughts -- that's all I was idly pondering.
I really don't have any feel for where the next season's landscape will end up in North American minor pro -- there's so many possibilities for change, so many possibilities that things may end up exactly where they are... and even more possibilities that I'm pretty sure none of us have even theorized about.