July 3, 2011

Another step forward

Portland welcomes Phoenix in the change-is-constant world of pro hockey

By Rachel Lenzi rlenzi@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Washington Capitals, 1993-2005: Glen Hanlon, then coach of the Pirates, leads a practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center in 2004.

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Anaheim Ducks, 2005-2008: Pirates' mascot Salty Pete hams it up with the Anaheim Ducks mascot in 2005.

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At a June 27 news conference to announce the Coyotes-Pirates deal, Petrovek said four teams were interested in affiliating with the Pirates: Phoenix, Florida, the Vancouver Canucks and a fourth team that he did not disclose. Likewise, Pych said that, like the Pirates, four teams were interested in the Rampage as an AHL affiliate, though he would not specify which teams.

"For us, we want an affiliation with an NHL team that believes in the AHL not only as a place to develop and maintain talent, but have players learn what it's like to be in a winning environment," Pych said. Pych also said he understood the intentions that Phoenix GM Don Maloney had in regards to the future of the Coyotes' minor-league affiliate.

"He's been pretty open from Day 1, in what he was used to and his bias towards having a team in New England," Pych said. "If we'd stayed with Phoenix, that would have been fine, too."

But in 10 years of Spurs Sports and Entertainment owning the Rampage, Pych said this was the first year in which an assembly of affiliation announcements came so closely.

"There were certain things that had to happen with other things to happen," Pych said. "We had conversations with other teams that wanted to come to San Antonio, but we had a sense of direction of where it would end up."

CHANGE IS GOOD

In the past two years, seven NHL teams have entered into new affiliations with AHL teams, transplanting their minor-league operations from city to city with each new affiliation. The longest partnership is between Boston and Providence, a 19-year affiliation. While the Pirates have had three-year deals with Anaheim and Buffalo, Petrovek is a self-proclaimed believer in long-term agreements yet has his own concerns about the number of AHL moves that come each year. League owners, he said, have expressed a collective concern when it comes to affiliations.

"Each circumstance has a different background, with different circumstances and different issues," Petrovek said. "Every year we get together as owners, we ask, 'is there a better way to skin the calf?' This is a difficult process, we shouldn't be caught by surprise. Movements are good for a number of reasons at different times, but should we take a different approach? Should we learn from minor-league baseball?

"They have a different length of affiliation. They have a different approach to when it's time to make a move, there's a different method to the madness. It's a little better defined and one that (the AHL) can learn from and move forward."

COMPLICATED PROCESS

Partnerships between NHL teams and AHL teams don't happen overnight. There's a process of due diligence when it comes to scouting out potential parent clubs or potential homes for an affiliate, which includes evaluating player personnel and development models, taking geography into consideration, discussing business developments and negotiating financial terms and the length of an affiliation agreement.

"Going through this process, it's interesting because you get an insight into different organizations," said Brad Treliving, Phoenix's assistant general manager. "You know a lot of the people but when you get in and start talking philosophically, you get a better understanding of people.

"Our goal in coming to this agreement (in Portland) was finding the best place to be, as far as development and being in an environment that spurs competition and growth in players."

And, Treliving added, "This is not a process you want to go through every six months."

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at:

rlenzi@pressherald.com

Twitter: rlenzi

 

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Additional Photos

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Buffalo Sabres, 2008-2011: Buffalo Managing Partner Larry Quinn, left, and General Manager Darcy Regier announce an affiliation with the Pirates in 2008.

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Phoenix Coyotes, 2011-?: Pirates CEO Brian Petrovek announces a partnership with Phoenix last Monday.

Telegram file photos

 


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