It’s official: New Jersey Devils move AHL afilliate back to Albany
With the Albany River Rats leaving for Charlotte, NC, the New Jersey Devils have formally been approved to move their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils, to Albany for the 2010-2011 season. The River Rats had been the Devils affiliate in the AHL from 1993 to 2006, before New Jersey decided to switch the affiliation over to the Lowell Lock Monsters in 2006.
It wasn’t exactly the friendliest departure either, as relations between the fans and the team had soured in the latter stages of the Devils’ affiliation with the River Rats.
Yet with the River Rats headed to Charlotte, and the lease with the arena expiring in Lowell, the Devils felt it was time to give it another shot in an area that should be a great town for minor league hockey. This new team will be called the Albany Devils, completely with a wholly generic AHL logo. Here’s the press release:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. ... American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has approved the relocation of the franchise owned by the New Jersey Devils from Lowell, Mass., to Albany, N.Y., to begin play there this fall.
The Albany Devils will mark the return of New Jersey’s affiliate to New York’s capital region and the Times Union Center. The Devils were the parent club of the AHL’s Albany River Rats for 13 years from 1993-2006, winning four division championships and the Calder Cup in 1995, the same season the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup.
The River Rats played a total of 17 seasons in Albany before they were sold and relocated to Charlotte, N.C., to begin there in 2010-11.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America during the 2009-10 season. The 2010 Calder Cup Finals are underway, with the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars tied at two wins apiece in their battle for the AHL’s 74th championship. Game 5 is Friday night.