Funny how one tweet can set off a row of dominoes in this league:
The #SPRFalcons will be holding a press conference in the @MM_Center Box Office on Friday, April 17 at 12 pm to make a major announcement— Springfield Falcons (@TheFalconsAHL) April 16, 2015
The Falcons mysterious announcement triggered widespread speculation about NHL and AHL affiliations across the internet and early this evening Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch broke the story wide open. According to Portzline, the Springfield Falcons will announce tomorrow morning that they and the Blue Jackets have agreed to mutually terminate their affiliation deal with one year remaining. Potzline went on to confirm that a multi-year affiliation between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Lake Erie Monsters was in the works for the 2015-2016 season:
The Blue Jackets would not comment on the report, but the announcement of Columbus and Lake Erie's partnership -- a multi-year deal -- will likely come next week.
Portzline's sources indicated that the Springfield Falcons' new NHL affiliate would be the Arizona Coyotes leaving Avalanche fans to wait and speculate that the Avalanche would be paired with the last un-paired date for the prom: the San Antonio Rampage.
Following Portzline's report and a flood of twitter questions Denver Post beat writer Mike Chambers reported that yes indeed, the Avalanche would be partnering with the San Antonio Rampage for the 2015-2016 season.
UPDATED: #Avs' new AHL affiliate will be the San Antonio Rampage http://t.co/RI3o9esfNk— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) April 17, 2015
Roughly one month ago early reports from Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch had our own Earl06 skeptical about the Avalanche's future with the Lake Erie Monsters, and back in February, Andidee here at MHH proposed that San Antonio be the new home for the Arizona Coyotes AHL team when the next wave of affiliation shifts hit. So while this move has been on the horizon for some time now, there are plenty of questions left to answer. Will the Avalanche be with San Antonio long term? Are the Avalanche trying to move their AHL affiliate closer to home? Does a San Antonio location help or hurt the Avalanche's development system? We should know more about the Avalanche's future affiliate in Texas when the announcement is made official tomorrow.
On a more somber note, the Lake Erie Monsters were eliminated from playoff contention tonight with a 6-4 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. That means there are just 2 games remaining in Lake Erie for the Avs' AHL prospects.
Today the Avalanche made their affiliation change official on their team twitter this morning.
NEWS: The #Avs have announced a new affiliation agreement with the @sarampage. MORE: http://t.co/ZNUpCjgT7E pic.twitter.com/vHxDVHLD26— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 17, 2015
While there was some speculation that this would be a short term shuffling of AHL properties, the Avalanche quashed those rumors, and hopes of a Colorado based AHL franchise in the near future by signing a five year affiliation deal with the Rampage. It's unknown if this deal has an out clause similar to the one exercised by the Monsters in order to re-affiliate with the Blue Jackets