After four years in the Alamo City, the Florida Panthers are packing up their things and moving elsewhere after the 2014-15 season, ending their affiliation with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
The Florida Panthers announced they have agreed on a four-year affiliation with the AHL’s Portland Pirates beginning in the 2015-16 season, Florida General Manager Dale Tallon announced on Wednesday morning.
“We are extremely pleased to announce this new affiliation with Portland,” said Tallon. “Portland is a great hockey town, and we look forward to our prospects continuing to grow and develop in a successful and winning culture in Portland.”
The announcement means the team is ending its four-year affiliation with the Rampage, who were previously working with the Panthers from 2005-2009 and from 2011-2015.
“I also would like to thank Rick Pych and Spurs Sports & Entertainment for partnering with the Panthers during the last four seasons,” Tallon continued. “It truly has been a pleasure working with a first-class organization. In addition, we would like to thank all of the terrific fans in San Antonio who have supported our AHL team there. We look forward to a solid finish this season in San Antonio, while qualifying for the Calder Cup playoffs.”
The move will see the Silver and Black lose some of their core players along with coaches, and hockey operations personnel as they begin a new season in Portland beginning next fall. Rampage General Manager Eric Joyce will be one of those making the move, filling the same role with the Pirates.
“Portland is a vibrant city and hockey-rich market that will provide our prospects with an exceptional environment for growth and development,” said Joyce. “The Pirates roster will include our organization’s top prospects who will compete hard and play an exciting style of hockey for the fans of Portland.”
Spurs Sports and Entertainment released a statement on the affiliation move this morning:
“While all of us at the Rampage have enjoyed our partnership with the Florida Panthers, we are even more excited about the future of the Rampage and the opportunities that will come with our new NHL partner. We will share that exciting news at the appropriate time. Spurs Sports and Entertainment is committed to bringing our fans the highest quality AHL team both on and off the ice and to the sustainability of hockey in San Antonio.”
San Antonio will now begin a hunt for a new NHL affiliation following the season. The Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals all have expiring AHL deals at the end of the current season.
The Rampage currently own a record of 36-20-5-1 for 78 points and fourth place in the Western Conference. The team will return to the ice on Friday when they travel to Oklahoma City for a matchup with the Barons at 7 p.m.