Florida Panthers President of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon announced today that the Panthers have signed a multi-year affiliation agreement with Springfield Hockey, LLC of the American Hockey League to serve as the Panthers AHL affiliate.
“We are very pleased to announce this affiliation with Springfield,” Tallon said. “Springfield is a hockey town with a rich history and we’re looking forward to a great relationship with the city and ownership group.”
Florida Assistant General Manager Eric Joyce will serve as general manager in Springfield. Joyce will oversee all matters related to the club’s minor league hockey operations.
"Springfield is a charter member of the American Hockey League and a proud hockey market where the fans will give our players the support and encouragement they need to develop into National Hockey League players,” Joyce said. “That being said, development is incumbent upon winning, and therefore our roster will include exciting players from top to bottom that will compete hard and win as many games as possible for the great fans and city of Springfield.”
“This is a great day for our organization, for the City of Springfield and for the entire region,” said Frank Fitzgerald, attorney for the ownership group. “We are committed to building a successful franchise both on the ice and in the community and we could not have a better partner in this effort than the Florida Panthers.”
“We are excited to partner with the Springfield Hockey, LLC ownership group,” said Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko. “As this process went along you could see this group is committed to providing a first class setting for our players as well as the city of Springfield and the fans.”
Springfield Hockey, LLC is a broad-based group of local investors committed to building an exciting and innovative brand of sports entertainment and maintaining professional hockey as a civic asset for the region. The group was formed in the wake of the Springfield Falcons’ sale and relocation to Tucson, Arizona. The group was recently granted AHL approval to purchase the Portland Pirates of the AHL and relocate the team to Springfield. The team will compete in the Atlantic Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference and play its home games at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. Further details about the franchise will be released in the coming weeks, including the team name and front office personnel.
Founded in 1936 and now with franchises in 30 cities across North America, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88-percent of today’s NHL players are AHL graduates, and for the 15th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games in 2015-16.