|(Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars)
He indicated that this has been "on the list" of things to do since Tom Gaglardi bought the team but things didn't get serious until four months ago. Really, he said that the plan to have an affiliate in-state that was owned by the NHL club was always part of the grand plan since 1993, when the North Stars moved to Dallas. Things were "sidetracked" in the past with the bankruptcy but to be able to put it back together is both "strategic and positive" for both teams. Lites said he has had relationships like this before, with the NHL team owning the AHL affiliate, but he has "never had one that has the potential of this one, with the proximity."
To fans, Lites indicated that the transfer would be seamless. The way that the team was operated this year, with Jim Nill and the Dallas organization using NHL contracts to provide valuable veteran leadership to the AHL club, is what Central Texas fans can expect for the coming years. He specifically called out Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Mueller as being key parts of that strategy. He also reiterated Nill and Gaglardi's commitment to not rushing players, instead drafting and developing.
Lites did also indicate that Northland Properties intends to buy out all assets of Hicks Cedar Park, LLC. That includes the team, its operating interest in the Cedar Park Center, and its ownership of the 17 acres of land around the Cedar Park Center. Lites emphasized that it isn't a done deal by any means. He said that the team is looking to extend its affiliation agreement with the city and the arena beyond the current ten-year deal, which will expire after the 2018-2019 season.