Milwaukee, Nashville extend through 2017

The American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals and the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators announced today that the two clubs have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2016-17 season.

“We are thrilled to extend our affiliation with the Predators,” said Admirals owner and chief executive officer Harris Turer. “David (Poile, Predators president of hockey operations and general manager) and Paul Fenton (Predators assistant GM and Admirals GM) and their staff are committed to developing players by continuing a winning tradition in Milwaukee, as evidenced by the success we have had in our relationship with Nashville.”

“We are very proud of the Admirals alumni like Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne and many others who have helped to make the Predators one of the most difficult teams in the NHL to play against.”

During their time with the Predators the Admirals have accumulated a 660-437-31-56-90 record, good for a .588 points percentage. The Ads have won four division titles, two conference crowns and a Calder Cup championship in 2004.

Milwaukee became the first team in AHL history to record 40 or more wins in 10 straight seasons and they have posted 90 or more points in nine of the past 11 seasons, including five years when they have broken the 100-point plateau. Since joining the AHL in 2001-02 after 24 seasons in the International Hockey League, the Admirals have accumulated the second-most points, behind only Hershey, in the league.

The Admirals are one of only two AHL teams to make it to the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of the last 12 seasons, with late-season surges the past three seasons helping to extend the streak. They went 16-5-1 in their final 22 games of the 2013-14 regular season to claim the Western Conference’s sixth seed, and in 2011-12 and 2012-13, they claimed the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with wins on the final day of the campaign.

The Predators and Admirals have functioned as affiliates since Nashville’s inception in 1998-99, the third-longest active streak behind Providence/Boston (1992) and Hartford/N.Y. Rangers (1997), and more than 140 players have played at least one game for both teams in the past 16 seasons. Additionally, six of Milwaukee’s head or assistant coaches have graduated to the NHL level, including Predators assistant coach Lane Lambert, who manned the Admirals’ helm for four seasons from 2007-11; current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards, who was an assistant with Milwaukee from 2002-06; and Claude Noel, who has been the head coach in Columbus and Winnipeg after serving as an the Ads bench boss from 2003-07.

Many of Nashville’s core players spent time with the Admirals, including four of their top five point-getters in 2013-14. Two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time Norris Trophy finalist and Predators captain Shea Weber started his pro career with Milwaukee in 2005-06; Patric Hornqvist started his North American career with Milwaukee in 2008-09 before putting up more than 20 goals in four consecutive full seasons for Nashville from 2009-14; Craig Smith spent time in his home state of Wisconsin during the 2012-13 campaign; and Roman Josi put up 40 points (6g, 34a) for the Ads in 2010-11 before bursting onto the NHL scene.

Two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne spent his first three seasons in North America with the Ads from 2005-08, while roster mainstays Colin Wilson, Nick Spaling, Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Victor Bartley all spent time developing in Milwaukee before becoming full-time players in Nashville.

In 2013-14 alone, forwards Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons, Simon Moser, Mark Van Guilder and Taylor Beck; defenseman Joe Piskula; and goaltenders Pekka Rinne, Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg appeared in games for both franchises.

“Our organization has been philosophically committed to an affiliation in which the road to Nashville goes through Milwaukee,” Poile said. “Our current roster supports this philosophy. The Milwaukee Admirals have cultivated a winning tradition, as evidenced by their 12 consecutive trips to the playoffs – including a Calder cup Championship in 2004 and another appearance in the Calder Cup Finals in 2006. Led by Harris Turer, the Milwaukee ownership group has assembled a bright and dedicated staff headed by president Jon Greenberg, that has created a major league environment for our prospects.

“With the Milwaukee organization working together with ours, led by Paul Fenton this has been and will continue to be a partnership that rewards both teams, and most importantly, the hockey fans in both cities.”