Is Manchester the ideal small-to-medium-sized AHL market? When speaking with Kings who had previously called New Hampshire’s largest city home, it’s the city colloquially referred to as “Manch,” or “ManchVegas,” a commonly used nickname that shares the name with a club near Verizon Wireless Arena.

One thing that I found Manchester wasn’t: the lead photograph above. That beautiful shot of the skyline and the Merrimack River was shot during a warmer time of the year. Though the weather was mostly clear over the last three days, around an inch of snow fell last night on top of the already considerable amount of snow that has accumulated during what has been an unforgiving winter.

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“It’s fun,” Nic Deslauriers said about playing in Manchester. “It’s a nice barn, close to Boston, 40 minutes to Boston. I think we have everything around us. It’s a great city to play in. It’s not too big. I think it’s quiet. Every time you go to a restaurant at night, you’re probably going to see one or two guys there. It’s fun. I think it’s the perfect size for the American Hockey League. It’s a great town, and I’ve been treated well here over the last three years.”

Deslauriers noted that the players aren’t regularly recognized around the city.

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I spoke with Monarchs president Darren Abbott about the team’s fanbase. With an average attendance of 5,383, the Monarchs rank 13th in the 30-team league. On Saturday night, the team drew a crowd of 9,552. On Sunday afternoon, the crowd was smaller and below the seasonal average.

Part of a greater fan culture in which Boston-area teams are religiously followed, New England Patriots flags flew on several homes and businesses in the area, and while I noticed more Kings jerseys than other NHL jerseys worn by fans in attendance, there was also a considerable amount of fans wearing Boston Bruins paraphernalia.

I asked Abbott whether Monarchs fans are fans of the Kings or Bruins first:

I also asked about the incubation process, and what the Kings’ hockey operations are looking for out of the Monarchs:

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“Everyone’s kind of spread out,” team captain Andrew Campbell said. “Some guys live with other guys and some guys live with their girlfriends or wives or whatnot, so everyone’s kind of spread out. But it’s a small city, when I say that guys are far apart, it’s only 10, 15 minutes, so everyone’s relatively pretty close.”

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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