After a tough year of sprinkling their prospects across North America, Anaheim finally has an AHL affiliate signed for a three year deal with a two year option starting in the 2010-11 season. Since Anaheim's inception, the Ducks have been the primary parent of four AHL clubs: the Baltimore Bandits, the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, the Portland Pirates and the Iowa Chops. The situations in Baltimore and Iowa both deteriorated, but the Ducks were able to develop much of their premier talent in Portland and Cincinnati, with the latter producing some of the best teams and churning out the most well developed prospects in Anaheim's short history.
Daniel, looking forward to this new affiliation with Syracuse and the prospects likely headed to the new farm, do you think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship or do you think the Ducks will end up leaving Syracuse after three years or even before then?
I hope and think that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. In order for an AHL team to thrive, it needs a strong local support group, which this team has. That fanbase generates the kind of financial security that might, oh I don't know, keep the owner from taking out loans against the team. More importantly, a strong AHL organization committed to winning will allow us a strong base from which to develop talent. We all know it's harder to get kids like Bonino and Newton to leave their schools when there isn' t a serious minor league team in play where they can look forward to developing their skills and learning our system in a positive environment.
I think this year has shown us how badly we need an AHL affiliate. We couldn't keep all of our prospects in one place, and we couldn't teach them our system. It's hard to develop on the fly, and harder still when the players in your organization aren't in one place, learning one system and learning together.
I like Syracuse as a choice. As we've all learned by now, having an east coast affiliate means the AHL travel is easier on the players and the hockey market is usually straonger. And, as David McNab pointed out, the three hour time difference is actually a boon as far as getting players to Anaheim before game time. I feel very good about our new partnership with Syracuse. Of course, not having an AHL affiliate was so awful that my perspective might be a little biased.
I think the biggest reason this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship is David McNab. When you look at those great Cincinnati Mighty Ducks teams, the Ducks developed a lot of great talent when David McNab was in charge. And when he moved on from being the AHL GM, he used his diligent scouting to put together even better Cincinnati teams. If David McNab is in charge again, this is going to be a good situation. He just knows how to find talent, and he's committed to developing talent and improving the AHL experience for his players. That's why he uprooted the team from Baltimore, and that's why he's happy to have gotten in with Syracuse, a solid franchise with longtime committed owners and a devoted fanbase. With so many of our prospects finishing their ELC's during the three years of this deal, I'm extremely confident both in what David McNab can do and in what he has planned.
I DO think there is a chance that the Ducks leave at the conclusion of this deal or sooner, but only because they fully intend to find a way to create a minor league system on the west coast. It's not possible now; they need a good handful of teams willing to come out west with them, but once it makes sense for the western NHL teams to do it, they WILL do it. Until then, I can't imagine a better situation than this one.