Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Other Possible AHL Affiliation Changes

February 9, 2010 - By

The next six months are going to be for the American Hockey League with teams being sold, teams being moved, and affiliation changes taking place.  This post could become confusing with all of the changes and possibilities that could take place.

One thing is for certain is that the affiliation between the Rochester Americans and Florida Panthers will last through the 2010/2011 season.  Talks have not yet started about a possible extension but it was recently reported in the Democrat and Chronicle that both parties have until November 2010 to work something out.

American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has approved the relocation of the AHL franchise owned by the Edmonton Oilers from Edmonton, Alta., to Oklahoma City, Okla., to begin play there in the fall of 2010.

No, there is not currently an AHL team in Edmonton.  The Edmonton Oilers are one of many NHL teams that owns the rights to an AHL franchise so in a sense they are relocating what they own but has been dormant from Edmonton to Oklahoma City.  The still unnamed team will play at the Cox Convention Center.

In other news the sale of the Albany River Rats is going to be finalized at a 2pm press conference on Wednesday to announce they will be moving to Charlotte, NC.  The Carolina Hurricanes want their affiliate closer to home and they’ll accomplish just that with this move.  What does that mean to an AHL team in Albany?  Well known car salesman Billy Fuccillo could be a potential buyer for a team in Albany, here’s more from The Record in Troy, NY:

http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2010/02/09/sports/doc4b70fa365dd63007510580.txt

Robb admitted he was looking for a potential buyer in the past, but always stated the sale would come with the stipulation the team remained in Albany. That no longer looks like an option. If Robb wanted to continue as an AHL owner, he could have switched affilations. AHL Commissioner Dave Andrews said five or six affiliation contracts were set to expire at the end of the season.

Two of the affiliations whose contracts expire are the New York Rangers (Hartford WolfPack) and the New York Islanders (Bridgeport Sound Tigers), which seem like a natural fit for Albany. The Rangers and Hartford are involved in tense negotiations involving the Hartford Civic Center. The Sound Tigers rate 19th in attendance in the AHL (3,915), which is approximately 500 more fans per game than the River Rats draw for a home date. Sources said the New Jersey Devils, which is located in Lowell, Mass., and the Buffalo Sabres affiliate, located in Portland, Maine, could also end up in Albany because the AHL wants to have a team in the Capital District.

A broadcast report Monday stated that Fuccillo, known for his incessant car commercials stating he’s willing to offer customers “huuuuge selections, huuuuuge savings and huuuuge deals,” is interested in owning an AHL team in Albany. Fuccillo certainly has pockets deep enough to finance a team. His car conglomerate features 23 dealerships in New York, including seven in the Capital District.

Another known affiliation agreement that is about to run out at the end of the season is between the Syracuse Crunch and Columbus Blue Jackets.  Lindsay Kramer over at Syracuse.com has written a number of stories that talks between the Crunch and Blue Jackets about extending their agreement have not really gone too far.

The Texas Stars are currently operating as a temporary franchise for this season and will need to purchase a franchise for the 2010/2011 season.  They could potentially buy the dormant franchise in Iowa that was suspended at the end of last season due to money being owed.

The Springfield Falcons will be losing their affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the season so that means they will need an affiliate.  The Falcons are one of few grandfathered franchises that could potentially operate without an affiliate but that’s not very likely.

The only NHL team currently without an affiliation is the Anaheim Ducks.  But, that does not mean they’ll go with Springfield.  They could continue without an affiliation spreading their players around like they currently are or sign an agreement with a team in need.

The Buffalo Sabres and Portland Pirates did announce a “long term” affiliation through the end of the 2010/2011 season but a number of sources are stating that there’s an out clause at the end of the season if the Sabres choose to leave.  If the Sabres could find an affiliation closer to Buffalo it’s widely assumed they would jump at the chance.  Who would the Pirates affiliate with?  It’s anyone’s guess.

AHL President and CEO David Andrews said that he expects about five or six changes to take place by the end of this season.  We already have two with the Rats moving to Charlotte and Edmonton going to Oklahoma City.  As the end of the season comes to a close and the summer starts there will be a lot more confusion and changes.

If I missed anything or mixed up any details please leave a comment and let me know.

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