While nothing is “OFFICIAL” yet, the writing is on the wall. The Tampa Bay Lightning are taking the puck and moving to Syracuse. Earlier today the Virginian-Pilot/PilotOnline.com released a story about the impending move. This article confirmed everything what we have been hearing for months now. The Admirals and Lightning officials have been trying to avoid the subject and wanting to concentrate on the Admirals playoff run and Calder Cup win. Now that the season is over and the parties are over it is as good enough time as any to put this “Worst Kept Secret” to rest.
The official announcement is expected within the week from the Lightning. Syracuse Crunch owner, Howard Dolgan, tweeted that a “A proper and professional announcement coming from the Crunch re new affiliation. Stay tuned.” Evidently he is upset that a Lightning official leaked the information and stole his thunder. Not exactly a good way to get things rolling in a new relationship. The Crunch’s previous affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks ended on a sour note with the Ducks being shown the door by Dolgan. Good luck to Tampa with the Crunch ownership.
So what about hockey in Norfolk? There is nothing to worry about right now. Admiral’s owner Ken Young assures us that we will have hockey in Norfolk in October. “One thing the fans have said that they are worried about is that they won’t have AHL hockey here,” Young said. “That won’t happen. There will be an AHL team here.” This quote was backed up with a press release from the Admirals that stated the Admirals were aware of reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed an affiliation agreement with the Syracuse Crunch. They also reassured us that there will still be AHL hockey at Scope next season. Announcements of a new National Hockey League partner will be made in the near future in the near future.
What does our future look like? The Anaheim Ducks are the likely candidate to fill our affiliation needs. Another possible candidate would be the Florida Panthers. The Ducks and the Panthers have not announced any affiliation agreements. The Panthers were partnered with the San Antonio Rampage last season, but that could all change as we witnessed today. Anaheim appears to be the likely candidate. One bright point to bring out of this situation is that this years Crunch were a good team. Hopefully the team that appears on Scope ice next year will not be like the early years of our Tampa affiliation.
This is a developing story and until everything is said and done…… Stay Tuned