The Stockton Heat are moving north to Calgary for the 2022-23 season. While Stockton’s players and staff have been raving about Stockton’s dedicated fans, the market was not without its challenges.
Speaking on a recent edition of The Broadway Hat podcast, former Heat defenseman Mike Kostka discussed some of the challenges.
Kostka was acquired by the Calgary Flames at the 2017 trade deadline and posted to Stockton while recovering from an eye injury. He shared an anecdote of going to Starbucks near Stockton Arena before a game in his costume and being scolded by team staff for doing so due to the potential dangerousness of the nearby area .
On the podcast, Kostka was asked if he was surprised the team was moving to Calgary:
This place was wild. As for, am I surprised they moved the team? No. People couldn’t wear red shirts in the rink because of the Bloods and Crips and gang activity. I was cleaning up my Google Drive the other day and found a map of Stockton gang activity that they gave me when I got to the team. Isn’t that crazy?
Originally, AHL home teams always wore white, but starting in 2016-17 the rule changed and teams changed after Christmas to wear their dark jerseys, a situation in which the Heat wore red half the time at home. The team did, however, use a series of stylish alternate home jerseys during their time in Stockton, including a very sharp black substitute introduced in 2016-17 and a gray substitute commemorating the history of professional hockey in the city during the 2019 season. -20.
Kostka’s comments echo those made at the start of the 2015-16 season by Czech defender Jakub Nakladal. During his Calgary call-up from the Heat, he shared these comments with Postmedia’s Kristen Anderson:
“It’s a crazy city, kind of,” said Nakladal, who had three assists in two games for the Heat. “A little (dangerous). The weather was great there. I feel like it was a vacation for me. (The AHL) is a good league, a bit different from the NHL. Everything is faster, players are smarter. But I think it’s a good league, maybe better than Europe.
The Heat will play in Calgary beginning in the 2022-23 season. The AHL has yet to announce the 2022-23 divisional roster, and the Flames have yet to reveal which arena the Heat will be playing in. But those mysteries are likely to be revealed in the coming weeks as various leagues roll out their schedules for the upcoming season.