The Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals jointly announced today that the clubs have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2014-2015 season.
Under the current agreement, the Bears completed their ninth season as Washington’s American Hockey League affiliate in 2013-14. Within one of the most successful partnerships in professional sports, the Bears have qualified for postseason play in eight of the last nine years. The club won back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 2009 and 2010, claimed their first title in the first year of the affiliation in 2006, and reached the Calder Cup Finals in 2007.
“The success of the Hershey Bears as the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals has been unmatched for nearly a decade,” said Bears president/general manager Doug Yingst. “The affiliation makes perfect sense geographically and logistically, and we are excited to work together again to produce two quality teams for our fans.”
Last season, 25 former or current Bears played for Washington: Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle, Julien Brouillette, Chris Brown, John Carlson, Connor Carrick, Nicolas Deschamps, Eric Fehr, Mike Green, Philipp Grubauer, Jack Hillen, Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Michael Latta, Peter LeBlanc, Steve Oleksy, Dmitry Orlov, Cameron Schilling, Nate Schmidt, Ryan Stoa, Tyson Strachan, Casey Wellman, Patrick Wey and Tom Wilson. Brouillette, Carrick, Deschamps, Latta, LeBlanc, Schmidt and Wey all made their NHL debuts with the Capitals in 2013-14.
Verizon Center, Washington’s home arena, also hosted American Hockey League games during each of the past two seasons. The Bears took on the Syracuse Crunch on Feb. 23, 2014, and the Norfolk Admirals on Dec. 6, 2012.
For an eighth consecutive season – all of which came during the current affiliation – the Bears boasted the AHL’s top attendance in 2013-14 as 367,238 fans visited Giant Center, an average of 9,664 fans per game. The team also welcomed a new regular-season record crowd of 10,995 on Mar. 15, when the Bears hosted the Adirondack Phantoms.
The Bears and Capitals were also affiliated from 1977 to 1984, a span which included the Bears’ 1980 Calder Cup championship.