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Lightning, Crunch enter affiliation

June 14, 2012

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Thursday that the team has entered into a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

Syracuse will serve as the Lightning’s top affiliate starting with the 2012-13 regular season. Tampa Bay will provide the Crunch with their top prospects under both NHL and AHL contracts.

“We are excited about our new partnership with the Syracuse Crunch and we look forward to working with Howard Dolgon and his organization on putting together a winning development program,” said Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois. “We benefited from tremendous fan support in Norfolk which helped us reach new heights as a team. We wish the Admirals fans and the city of Norfolk all the best in the future.”

The Syracuse Crunch is entering into its 19th year of operation in the AHL and boasts the longest, current independent ownership group led by Howard Dolgon. The Crunch has the sixth-longest tenure of any AHL team. The Lightning will be the fourth primary NHL affiliate of the Crunch, who previously partnered with Vancouver (1994-2000), Columbus (2000-10) and Anaheim (2010-12). Syracuse had a dual affiliation with Vancouver and Pittsburgh from 1997-99.

“We are delighted to be partnering with a first-class organization run by an outstanding management team in Steve Yzerman and Julien BriseBois,” said Dolgon. Tampa Bay previously held their primary AHL affiliation with the Norfolk Admirals over the past five seasons. As the Lightning’s top affiliate, the Admirals captured the Calder Cup last week and also set a professional hockey record, winning 28 consecutive games to close out the 2011-12 regular season. The Norfolk Admirals organization announced that an affiliation agreement with a new National Hockey League partner will be coming in the near future.