Affiliation Consistency

Did you know…

…that the Predators and Admirals have the third longest active affiliation streak in the AHL?

The Admirals are the only AAA affiliate the Predators have ever known, going back to their inaugural season in 1998.  This puts them only behind the Hartford Wolfpack/Connecticut Whale – New York Rangers relationship (since 1997), and the Providence Bruins – Boston Bruins relationship (since 1992).

Obviously, there are lots of great things about a long relationship like that.  Milwaukee has a lot to offer the Preds, or any NHL affiliate.

“We have built a very strong and successful relationship with Nashville that has been mutually beneficial,” Admirals Team President Jon Greenberg says.  “Our ownership group and front office staff have worked hard to make this a destination for potential players with not only a first-class facility in the Bradley Center but also a Major League city to live and work.”

But how does the Milwaukee – Nashville relationship differ from those other two long-standing duos?

Travel.

It takes a little less than 2 and a half hours to drive from Hartford to NYC.

It takes an hour to drive from Providence to Boston.

It’s about a 9 and a half hour drive from Milwaukee to Nashville.  It’s a two hour direct flight if you can get it.

From a roster management standpoint, there are obvious benefits to proximity: time and money.

The reason I bring all of this up, as reader BrianTheAdsFan had previously pointed out, there are rumors out there that the Predators want to move their affiliates closer to home.

The Predators had their annual Skate Of The Union address recently.  It’s a nice public relations thing the team does every summer where fans can get some face-time with management and coaches.  They talk about all parts of the franchise…business, player development, drafting, the ownership group, and there’s a Q&A session at the end.  It gives Nashville fans a reason to be excited about hockey in July.

Here’s where the story deviates a bit from on-the-record-fact to off-the-record-conversations-that-would-probably-would-not-hold-up-in court.

In the comments section of a post on ontheforecheck.com , a commenter shared this:

“I was able to catch Jeff Cogen last night.  Can’t let the Pred out of the bag….but expect to see our farm teams within a 3 hour driving distance in the near future. He mentioned 2 cities on the radar with hockey ready arenas that they are going for to get a more regional fan base. Hint…..One metro area just lost their team……”

Jeff Cogen is the Chief Executive Officer and alternate Governor of the Predators.  The commenter?  Hell if I know.  And thus we get to an unfortunate byproduct of the rise of blogs…..there’s a ton of information going back and forth on the superhighway, but it’s not always easy to verify it.

A Nashville – Atlanta relationship.  It’s tough to fault them if they are looking in to it.  Arena?  Check.  Heartbroken hockey fans looking for a new team to follow?  Check.  Just a four hour drive between the two cities?  Check.  Branding opportunities in the region?  Major check.  The Predators are already trying to market Preds hockey to the old Thrashers fan base.  And an affiliation agreement would certainly help that.

The thought of it feels kind of like a punch in the gut to Milwaukee fans.

Still, I can’t help but think that there are a lot more things that would need to happen in advance of this coming anywhere close to fruition.  For one thing, all 30 of the AHL teams are already owned, either by the parent club or locally.  For the Preds to be able to pick and choose an affiliate city in this fashion, they would likely need to purchase an existing AHL franchise, and then relocate that franchise.  True North owned the Manitoba Moose, and with their good fortune in landing the NHL team, they elected to move the Moose out east.  Good for them.

For an organization that some may describe as “frugal”, is this possible for Nashville?  Sure, it’s possible.  Is it likely?  I’m less confident that it’s likely.

The Admirals and Predators have one more year left on their current affiliation deal, so change isn’t exactly imminent.  But I don’t think there’s anything to panic about at the moment.  I think a lot more dominos will need to fall before there’s something to be worried about, and those dominos will be louder than some off-the-cuff comment from a Predators executive to an anonymous reader/commenter on a blog.

“The road to Nashville has gone through Milwaukee since 1998 and we expect that to continue for years to come with hopefully an affiliation extension right around the corner,” Greeny says.

Affiliation changes are not exactly uncommon in this league, and I think our long-standing affiliation bliss with the Predators should be viewed as the exception, and not the norm.  But I find Greeny’s comments very encouraging, and I hope we’ll be writing about an affiliation extension sometime this season.

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7 Responses to Affiliation Consistency

  1. Driving distance is kind of a negligible issue if you ask me, as proven by the recent addition of Charlotte to the Midwest AHL division. Our NHL team is 2 hours (and change) away from Charlotte, but our prospects could be playing in Abbotsford, or Milwaukee when they get called up. I think the key, above driving distance, is proximity to a major airport for those last minute call ups. I read stories about Matt Calvert trying to get to Hershey from Columbus last season… he had to secure car services, etc., and as a kid in the minors who had only been on a plane once prior to that season, it was kind of a challenge! Needless to say, he barely made it.

    While I’ve heard the SouthEast is a destination the AHL wants to continue to expand into, I just don’t know why a team with a good relationship with their AHL team in Milwaukee would want to move to a market that has not been able to ever support the NHL. They have a decent ECHL team and arena, but… I dunno. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It seems like a disgruntled NHL team like Florida should be exploring Atlanta, not Nashville.

  2. Thanks for posting this thread Ryan. A punch in the gut was exactly the way I felt after first reading that hearsay comment, but with the way they were carrying on with the Thrashers fan at the SOTU, it really made me think. I feel the Preds and the Admirals have a special relationship and I would hope Mr. Cogen, who hasn’t been with the Preds all that long, would not offhandedly see Milwaukee as just another affiliate that can be replaced on a whim. I’m including the response I received from the Nashville Predators Fan Support and my subsequent reply to it. I see they thought the same way you and Seth did, the first time I posted this concern, so I had to elaborate with my second e-mail. It took 4 days to get my first response, (granted the weekend was in there) so we’ll see where this goes.

    Brian,

    Thank you for your email and for addressing your concerns!

    What Mr. Cogen mentioed at the Skate of the Union event last week was to potentially have an Admirals exibition game here at Bridgestone Arena. This was done once before during the NHL lockout. The game was very popular and it exposed our fans here in Nashville to future talent.

    Please let us know if you have any questions or would like more information.

    Thank you for your support!
    Nashville Predators Fan Relations

    My reply…

    Thank you for responding to my email, but that comment that he made during the SOTU is not what I am referring to. I’m all for the Admirals having exposure in Nashville and vice versa in Milwaukee. I wish there was more of this!

    It’s a comment that a fan heard after the question and answer was over when he was supposedly just chatting with fans after. I would guess this would be a hard question to ask the boss, but is he planning in the near future to terminate the Milwaukee affiliation for cities closer to Smashville?

    I await for your response,
    Brian

  3. frontrowjon says:

    Whatever happens with this whole rumor is gonna happen. And I’m pretty sure the milwaukee admirals hockey club can not be moved unless ownership sells it. (Which mr turer doesn’t seem to be looking to do) so we will still have hockey here and who knows the ducks drop affiliation every year it seems and we are one of few teams on the “west coast” of the ahl we may look like an attractive place for them. Or we go to the echl and rack up kelly cups whatever we will still be here in milwaukee watching our club play hockey, we have been before nashville was around and we will well after they are gone. Let’s go buffalo and GO ADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. And their response… Not quite what I was looking for as it seems they get their information 2nd hand as well, or that they are not privy to a direct answer to a question, or Mr. Cogen is in the Bahamas… :-)

    For what its worth…

    Brian,

    Thank you for the clarification.

    We have not heard of any plans to move our affiliation with Milwaukee to other teams or to move the Admirals elsewhere.

    If you have any other questions or concerns please let us know.

    Thank you for your support!

    Nashville Predators Fan Relations

  5. Seth says:

    Brian,

    FWIW, I share your same concern and believe that the relationship between Nashville and Milwaukee is a key to both franchises successes of late (Predators-Ads, Brewers-Sounds).

    Gwinnett is currently seeking a new affiliate in the ECHL, but they are not looking to get to the AHL level. As for Atlanta, ASG still controls Phillips Arena and have made it pretty clear that they don’t want hockey in their arena. Knoxville doesn’t have a facility for the AHL (the Knoxville Coliseum would be a MAJOR downgrade), neither does Memphis.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gwinnett became our ECHL affiliate, but I’d be shocked if we moved from Milwaukee. Whatever happens will likely become more clear though as the season progresses as the Nashville-Milwaukee contract is up at year end. All I know is that I’m planning at least one trip up to see the Ads this season and am looking forward to it!

  6. adsfan says:

    Simple solution; make Cogen’s vacation permanent. Hire a replacement that isn’t brain dead and keep the Admirals as the #1 affiliate for Nashville! Does this guy know that 2/3 of the Preds came through Milwaukee? How many other NHL teams have that level of support? Stop calling him Mister, he doesn’t deserve our respect! He needs to earn it by his future words and deeds.

  7. Pingback: Road To Nashville To Continue To Go Through Milwaukee | Admirals Roundtable

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