By Mike Bonts
JACKSONVILLE (Florida Sports Wire) –The New York Rangers are out. Looks like the Buffalo Sabres are in as the Icemen are shuffling off to a new NHL affiliate for the upcoming ECHL season.
Jacksonville will announce their new NHL and AHL affiliates on Monday. Nothing is certain until Monday’s official press conference, but it’s thought that the Icemen will sign with Buffalo.
Former Jacksonville head coach Jason Christie is an assistant with the Sabres and gives the Icemen an inside track.
Christie won an ECHL-record 667 games as a head coach in the league. In Buffalo, he was reunited with head coach Don Granados, who was his teammate with the ECHL’s Columbus Chill, and later his head coach with the Peoria Rivemen, when the team captured the 2000 Kelly Cup title.
Last month Cincinnati mutually agreed to not extend their affiliate agreement with Buffalo to become the New York Rangers affiliate. The Rangers were affiliated with the Icemen.
The Cyclones and Sabres were linked since 2017 when the Sabres ECHL affiliate in Elmira, NY ceased operations.
The Rochester Americans, one of minor league hockey’s storied franchises would be the Icemen’s AHL affiliate.
Back in the early 1950s, Montreal Canadiens manager Frank Selke promised that the city of Rochester, known for its cold and frigid weather, would eventually be home to a AHL franchise.
That dream would soon become a reality through a collaborative effort between he, Conn Smythe of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the local ownership group of Sam Toth and Ed House.
The AHL granted the group a conditional franchise in June of 1956 to begin play that season and the team, later dubbed the “Rochester Americans”, would go onto become one of the most successful and storied franchises in league history.
The Amerks remain the second-oldest franchise in the AHL behind only the Hershey Bears.
On Monday, the NHL’S Vancouver Canucks made an announcement regarding an agreement with an ECHL team for the 2023-24 season to become their affiliate.
After two seasons of not having an affiliate in the ECHL, the Vancouver Canucks have reached an agreement with the Kalamazoo Wings.
The Icemen will open the 2023-24 season at home on Saturday, Oct. 21 against the ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Florida Everblades.
Stay tuned for the official word.
(SportsDay’s Mike Bonts covers hockey for the Florida Sports Wire)