Report: Rangers pursuing Amerks for 2011-12; what next for Panthers?

The Biz of Hockey is reporting the New York Rangers may end a 13-year affiliation with the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack - a club which Blueshirts parent Madison Square Garden founded and has owned since the loss of the Whalers in 1997 -  in order to hook up with the disgruntled Rochester Americans, currently partnered with the Panthers. What a week, eh?

Just this week, Amerks ownership stopped ever-so-short of vowing to sever ties with the Florida Panthers, stating - among a myriad of reasons - veteran player contracts (read: AHL lifers) were not being paid by the Cats per a verbal agreement. OK, they actually did vow to sever ties.

Can they be blamed? Given the inordinately large number of management changes in Sunrise since Florida and Rochester mated in 2005, it's tough to clarify who (Keenan? Martin? Sexton? Heck, Cohen?) to nail that charge against. Presumably it was under JM's regime, as such a deal would only have been struck in the aftermath of the Buffalo Sabres abandoning the dual-affiliation and going the solo route with the  Portland Pirates.

In any case, it's hardly been news that Amerks fans and ownership have been less than enamoured with the Panthers' performance in regard to their American Legue stablemate, and finding anyone who believed an extension is forthcoming is an exercise in pain management. Of course, Cats' GM Dale Tallon just arrived, but whether he can - or more correctly chooses to - smooth over the crisis is anyone's guess. Florida and Rochester are joined at the hip for at the very least one more season.

And what a season that may be: Jacob Markstrom. Colby Robak. A.J. Jenks. Marc Cheverie. Scott Timmins. Evgeni Dadonov. And potentially whomever goes third in June's Entry Draft. But I'm sure the Rangers have a few nice prospects as well; Slats has always put shrewd drafting ahead of all else. 

As for the Rangers, word on the street says they are not happy with their arrangement with the Wolf Pack (yes...the club they own) and are actively pursuing greener pastures. More on this to come.

Updates: 

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