The Florida Panthers and Rochester Americans will be entering the final year of their current three year affiliation agreement and it's starting to sound like it's going to be the last.
Amerks president Lewis Staats told the Democrat and Chronicle, "We're willing to talk but we're not willing to negotiate an extension."
At the heart of the issue is whether or not the Florida Panthers are willing to help pay for the costs of veteran players in Rochester next season. Staats says in the story that last July there was a verbal agreement in place that the Panthers would help pay for part of the costs associated with those players but "they just kept sending us a bill at the end of every month." The Amerks thought the costs should have been shared but the sharing never came about.
Here’s my thoughts, just say this is the last season of the affiliation and let it end. Curt Styres and Lewis Staats had no choice but to sign an agreement with the Panthers when they bought the Amerks before the 2008/2009 season. I think it’s been pretty clear that very few people (in Rochester) like the Florida Panthers and enough people have probably put it in their heads (Styres and Staats) that the Panthers are the problem for low ticket sales in Rochester. I have no idea what else at this time will be available in terms of other affiliations, but with the way things work in the AHL it seems like nothing is ever set in stone no matter what is reported.
The Amerks have not even met with the Dale Tallon yet, the Panthers new GM. It seems to me like common business sense would be to hold off on the words said and say they’re going to meet and try to work out their differences and make things work. Or even better just say they’re going to explore all other options and say they’re going separate ways.
What we have instead are some more wacky discussions in the middle of May and not anything that will try and build any new fan interest for the upcoming season. These are real issues, you just have to question the way in which the Amerks organization goes about talking about them.
It's going to be a long summer and long season unless Dale Tallon can come in and work some magic to smooth things over. The affiliation between the Amerks and Panthers has had some rough times but they seemed to be making progress. Stay tuned, it's going to be interesting.
The AHL and NHL do not provide a list of current affiliation lengths between teams so there’s no real way to say what other team would be available.
Get ready for another lame duck season and world of distractions. I feel sorry for the ticket reps who have to try and build new ticket sales, it’s probably not easy with all of this going on.
Ed. Note: Keith is the founder and managing editor of the wonderfully awesome LetsGoAmerks.com - check it out for everything on the Amerks and American Hockey League.