After a year without a dedicated AHL affiliate, the Anaheim Ducks have finally found a home for their developing players Yesterday, the Ducks announced a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Syracuse Crunch, set to begin with the 2010-11 season.
"We are thrilled to be affiliating with the Syracuse Crunch in such a great hockey market," said GM Bob Murray. "Syracuse is steeped in hockey tradition and we are excited to partner with an ownership and management team that shares the same commitment to winning and player development as we do."
The Ducks most recent affiliate, the Iowa Chops, did not work out after one year, due to the Chops not meeting their end of their obligations. The Ducks had desired an affiliate closer to California, which is why they had moved from the Portland Pirates in Maine.
Now, the Ducks go back east again, this time in Syracuse, New York. The Crunch are currently in their 16th year of operation in the AHL, tied for the sixth-longest tenure of any AHL team.
"This is an honor and thrill for our organization, to partner with the Anaheim Ducks - one of the truly elite franchises in the National Hockey League," said Crunch President and CEO Howard Dolgon. "They are a team with a proven winning track record on both the NHL and minor league levels and have highly experienced and very well-respected hockey people running their operation. We look forward to a long and successful relationship and can't wait to get started."
Syracuse has most recently been the affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This year, without a primary affiliate, the Ducks have spread their minor league players to the Manitoba Moose, San Antonio Rampage and Toronto Marlies. Other players have spent time in Bakersfield in the Ducks ECHL affiliate.
It has not been an ideal situation at all.
"It's hard for the players," said assistant GM David McNab. "Everybody got treated well and got ice time, but it's tough because no matter where you are, you're not going to be the first concern of the coaching staff. It's just human nature that you're not going to jeopardize the development of your own players for players from another organization."
Having a place to develop your players and learn the system will only benefit the Ducks and their upcoming players.