The Capitals and Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2013-14 season, Capitals vice president and general manager George McPhee and Hershey president and general manager Doug Yingst announced today.
We are excited to extend our affiliation with the Hershey Bears, McPhee said. The Bears are one of the most storied franchises in the AHL and we are looking forward to the continued development of some of our top prospects in Hershey.
The Bears recently completed their seventh season as the Caps' AHL affiliate. Hershey has qualified for the playoffs each of the last seven years and won the Calder Cup in back-to-back seasons in 2009 and 2010 as well as in 2006. Hershey has reached the Calder Cup final in four of the seven seasons it has been affiliated with the Capitals under the current agreement.
Nineteen former or current Bears Karl Alzner, Keith Aucoin, Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Sean Collins, John Erskine, Cody Eakin, Mike Green, Matt Hendricks, Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, D.J. King, Tomas Kundratek, Brooks Laich, Michal Neuvirth, Dmitry Orlov, Mathieu Perreault, Joel Rechlicz and Jeff Schultz skated for the Capitals this season as the Caps qualified for the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
The combined efforts of the Capitals and the Bears have produced playoff teams each year and three championships here in Hershey since our partnership began, Yingst said. Washington also eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions using several players who developed in Hershey. It is a win-win for both parties and we are thrilled to team up again.
The Bears will be visiting Verizon Center next season for a regular-season AHL game against the Norfolk Admirals. The Washington AHL Showcase will mark the first Hershey Bears game held in Washington since 1979. The game is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, December 6, 2012.
Hershey will celebrate its 75th season in the AHL in 2012-13, highlighted by The Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic, to be held on Sunday, January 20, 2013, at historic Hersheypark Stadium against the Wilkes-BarreScranton Penguins. This marks the second-consecutive season that Hershey will compete in an outdoor game.
Hershey boasted the leagues top attendance for the sixth-consecutive season in 2011-12, with a total of 375,146 fans attending games at the Bears home arena, Giant Center. Additionally, two new club records were set in the 2011-12 season. 10,901 fans visited on February 12 in a game against the Norfolk Admirals, setting a new record for the largest regular-season home crowd in team history. This was also one of 23 crowds of over 10,000 since opening night in October, marking another Hershey Bears Hockey Club record. Giant Center seats 10,500 for hockey and is located less than 140 miles from Verizon Center.
The Capitals and Bears were previously affiliated for seven seasons from 1977 to 1984, including the Bears 1980 Calder Cup championship. The Capitals also have an affiliation with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.