List of California Hockey Teams – NHL and AHL Teams in Cali

The state of California showing where the professional hockey teams are

California, a state known for its sun, surf, and silicon, has a surprisingly vibrant ice hockey scene. With its diverse culture and love for sports, California is home to several NHL teams in different leagues, each with its unique history and fan base. Today, we’ll dive into the world of hockey in the Golden State, exploring the California hockey teams and their impact on the sport.

Hockey culture is growing out west, and the Golden State is at the epicenter. Califonia is a transplant state; people from all over the USA move to Cali to soak up the sunshine and pay crazy-high taxes and gas prices. And they bring their love for hockey with them. 

Professional Hockey Teams In California

California is home to eight professional hockey teams. We’ll go through them all, starting with the minor leagues. So grab your surfboard and suntan lotion, and let’s take a trip through hockey in California.

AHL Teams In California

There are five American Hockey League teams in California. The AHL is a minor league affiliate of the NHL, a proving ground for inexperienced coaches and young hockey players to get their start before getting called up to The Show (Hockey slang for the NHL). The AHL is also known for its fighting, which makes the games action-packed.

Here are the AHL teams in California in order of when they were established in the AHL. It’s common for minor league hockey teams to change leagues from time to time, especially in California. So, some of these teams existed long before they joined the AHL.

Coachella Valley Firebirds

Established in 2022

Affiliated with the Seattle Kraken

the Coachella Valley Firebirds logo, a red bird, the logo of one of the california hockey teams

Coachella might be known more for its epic music festival than its hockey team. Still, the Firebirds are a team on the rise. In their first season in the AHL, they went all the way to game seven of the Calder Cup Finals, so the future looks bright!

You might not think Palm Springs is a good place for a hockey team, but there are tons of snowbirds in the desert. Many people fly south for the winter and spend half the year in sunny southern California, and they come from cold places where hockey is big.

San Jose Barracuda

Established in 2015

Affiliated with the San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Barracuda logo, the letters "SJ" in green, and a barracude holding a hockey stick

The San Jose Barracuda joined the AHL with the Pacific Division Expansion, like most AHL teams on this list. Unfortunately for their fans, they’ve had about as much success as the big club, the Sharks, which is not much. They were near the bottom of the AHL the last few years and have never made the Calder Cup Final.

The Barracuda shares the same city as the San Jose Sharks, making calling players up to the big leagues very easy. Hopefully, they can turn their on-ice misfortune around with all the high draft picks the Sharks are getting.

Ontario Reign

Established in 2008

Affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings

The Ontario Reign logo, they are a hockey team in California

The Ontario Reign joined the AHL in 2015 but were members of the ECHL beginning in 2008. In 2015, the Kings announced they were moving their AHL affiliate from the Manchester Monarchs to the Ontario Reign. In case you didn’t know, Ontario is a city in California about an hour east of Los Angeles.

The Reign haven’t had much success out west after winning the Calder Cup as the Manchester Monarchs in 2015. The Reign have struggled, having only made it out of the first round once since the move. They have had some talent come through, but only briefly. Players like Quinton Byfield and Adrian Kempe, one of the great Swedish NHL stars today, both played for the Reign.

Bakersfield Condors

Established in 1995

Affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers

The Bakersfield Condors logo, they are an AHL team, it's a condor holding a hockey stick

The Bakersfield Condors hockey team has been around for a while, just not in the AHL. The team was formed in 1995 as a member of the West Coast Hockey League, then they joined the ECHL in 2003 and then relocated to Norfolk, Virginia. In 2015, the Bakersfield Condors were reborn as the AHL expanded its Pacific division. The Condors brought home the Calder Cup as AHL champions in 2021.

Being so far away from their parent club, the Edmonton Oilers, is a huge disadvantage for them; if the Oilers need a player called up, that’s a long trip north of the border. Most AHL teams are relatively close to their NHL club; some are less than an hour away by car.

San Diego Gulls

Established in 1966

Affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks

The San Diego Gulls logo, they are a hockey team in California

The San Diego Gulls hockey team was founded in 1966 as members of the now-defunct Western Hockey League, not to be confused with the current WHL, which is a junior league. The Gulls have bounced around to many different minor leagues over the years, including the PHL, IHL, WHA, ECHL, and WCHL. Then they disbanded in 2006, only to come back into existence in 2015 with the AHL’s Pacific division expansion.

They haven’t won the AHL’s Calder Cup but have won several championships in some of the other leagues they were in, including five WCHL Cups and one ECHL Championship in 2004. National Hockey League stars like Brandon Montour, Jose Theodore, and John Gibson all laced up their skates for the Gulls.

ECHL Teams in California

There are no ECHL teams in California, which makes sense since ECHL stands for East Coast Hockey League. However, the Ontario Reign and the San Diego Gulls, which are as far west as you get, used to be in the ECHL. And Lake Tahoe is getting an ECHL team starting in the 2024-25 season. They will play in South Lake Tahoe, which is in Nevada, but it’s right on the California border. They will be called the Tahoe Knight Monsters, and Tim Tebow owns a part of the franchise.

How Many NHL Teams Are in California?

There are three current National Hockey League teams in California, the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks.

Former NHL Teams in California

There is one defunct NHL team that used to be in California, the California Golden Seals. 

California Golden Seals

1967 to 1976

The California Golden Seals were one of the original expansion franchises in the National Hockey League following the Original Six era. Based in Oakland, the Seals struggled right from the start of their short time as an NHL franchise, both on and off the ice. They only made two playoff appearances in their nine-year existence, losing in the first round both times. 

They changed their name several times, so developing an identity was challenging. They were initially known as California Seals, then renamed the Oakland Seals, then the following year the Bay Area Seals, and finally the California Golden Seals. In 1976, they relocated and became the Cleveland Barrons, who eventually merged with the Minnesota North Stars, who later became the Dallas Stars. The best thing the Golden Seals had going for them was some awesome sweaters (Jerseys).

The California Golden Seals hockey jerset, yellow and green

NHL Teams in California

Here is a brief history of each of California’s three National Hockey League teams.

Anaheim Ducks

Established in 1993

Anaheim Ducks

Established in 1993

Shop Ducks Gear
The Anaheim Ducks NHL logo, the letter D in the shape of a webbed foot in gold and black

Originally named the Anaheim Mighty Ducks after the famed Disney movie, they were the first Califonia NHL team to win the Stanley Cup in 2007. Led by a tenacious forecheck and perhaps the best defensemen pair in NHL history, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, they brought The Cup to So Cal.

Their involvement in community initiatives, particularly youth hockey development, has been remarkable. The Anaheim Ducks are dedicated to making hockey accessible to children of all backgrounds, offering various programs encouraging participation and skill development. This commitment to growing the sport at the grassroots level has cultivated a new generation of hockey enthusiasts and contributed to the team’s widespread popularity in the region.

The Anaheim Ducks have gone through a rough patch lately, but the future is bright. Their stadium, The Pond (Honda Center), will be packed again with rowdy fans cheering on their Ducks. 

San Jose Sharks

Established in 1991

The San Jose Sharks NHL logo, a green and black shark biting a hockey stick

The San Jose Sharks’ journey in the National Hockey League is not just about their achievements on the ice but also about their significant impact on the community. The team has been instrumental in promoting hockey in Northern California, contributing to a surge in youth hockey programs and fan engagement. 

Unfortunately for those fans, the franchise has never won the Stanley Cup. Even with stars like Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, one of the top NHL centers of all time, they couldn’t win it all. Much to their namesake, the Sharks are known for their fast-paced, aggressive gameplay, making every game an exhilarating experience for fans. 

Known for their teal jerseys and iconic arena, The Shark Tank (SAP Center), the Sharks have a reputation for being fierce competitors. Will this new group of Sharks be able to take this franchise to the promised land? Only time will tell.


Stickhandling Deke Trainer

A hockey stickhandling and deke trainer

Slide Board Pro Training

A hockey player training on a slide board, a great piece of hockey training equipment

Hockey Topics is reader-supported; when you purchase something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. To learn more, click here.

Los Angeles Kings

Established in 1969

The Los Angeles Kings logo, one of the best NHL logos, a black shield with the letters LA and a crown underneath

From the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, to Anze Kopitar, to star goalie Jonathan Quick and two Stanley Cups, the Los Angeles Kings are a storied franchise with a rich history. They were one of the original expansion teams when the NHL went from the Original Six to 12 teams in 1969.

Because of the Wayne Gretzky trade and the LA Kings’ active involvement in the community with youth development programs, hockey has blossomed in California and the Western US. Their success has not only energized their fan base but has also played a crucial role in popularizing hockey in Southern California.

The Kings call Arena home, but they used to play in one of the most famous arenas ever, The Great Western Forum. They shared the building with the Lakers and basketball legends like Magic Johnson and Kareem. Their jerseys also used to match; before the current black and white, the Kings used to wear some pretty sweet purple and gold unis. 

California Hockey Rivalries

When you think of great hockey rivalries in the National Hockey League, you probably don’t include any of the three California teams. Still, the rivalries are as intense as any in the league when the Cali teams are playing well. In 2014, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup, they beat both the Ducks and the Sharks in 7 games. The Kings were down 0-3 games in the series against the Sharks and came back to win game 7 and advance.  

Final Thoughts on California Hockey Teams

Now that we’ve gone through the list of professional hockey teams in California, you can see that ice hockey is alive and well in the Golden State. The hockey landscape in California is as diverse and vibrant as the state itself. From the high-stakes action of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angeles Kings to the developmental proving ground of the AHL teams, California offers a rich tapestry of hockey culture and talent. 

As hockey continues to grow and evolve in California, the future looks bright for the sport. With each season, new talents emerge, rivalries intensify, and fanbases expand, further embedding hockey into the Californian way of life. The story of hockey in California is one of passion, resilience, and community, a narrative that will continue to captivate and inspire for generations to come.

Related Articles

What is a Hat Trick in Hockey?

Have you ever watched a hockey game where a player scores a goal, the packed arena goes wild, and…

17 Reasons Why Hockey is the Best Sport

Step into the extraordinary world of hockey, where the fusion of skill, speed, and unrelenting…

What is a Hockey Puck Made Of? And Other Facts about NHL Pucks

One of these key components in this great game that undoubtedly stands out and demands attention is…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *