Blues prospects will have a new home next season, a development that has stirred emotions considerably in the long-time minor-league base of the franchise.
In early April, the Blues announced that they had sold the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League to the Vancouver Canucks, after which the Blues unveiled a three-year agreement with the independently owned Chicago Wolves.

The move has been met with excitement among St. Louis and Chicago officials, but in Peoria, Ill., where the Blues held an affiliation for several decades at different levels, the feeling is one of indignation.

Vancouver has decided that it will move the team out of Peoria, which nearly caused an end to a 31-year run of professional hockey in the city. Within the last week, however, some former hockey executives in Peoria have secured a spot for a new Rivermen club to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League, a Class-A pro league.

That has cushioned some of the blow for the team’s following, but not muted the angst.

“I do feel bad for fans of the Peoria Rivermen,” Blues owner Tom Stillman said in his first public comments since the swap. “There is a group there that is loyal and they have been supporting us at the gate and I understand the emotional attachment and I feel bad.

“At the same time, and the fact is, we weren’t getting overwhelming support in the Peoria market. Attendance was pretty light and the sponsorship and other forms of support was not very strong. And that makes it difficult to maintain an AHL franchise there.

“In the end, my primary duty that I see is to the St. Louis Blues franchise. In this case, it’s to the development of our prospects and to our financial well-being. And on both fronts, this is much better for the St. Louis Blues franchise.”

The Chicago team, which is owned by Don Levin, is one of the premier franchises in the AHL, winning the Calder Cup in 2002 and 2008. The Wolves are led by former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel and play at Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont, Ill.

In 2012-13, despite being in backyard of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, the Wolves’ reported attendance of 8,230 ranked second in the AHL. The reported figure for the Rivermen was 5,027, ranking 20th in the league, although the team's actual paid attendance was approximately 2,600.