|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
I had personally been working privately to maintain a list of affiliations and arena agreements for a year or two to. Charles Dart, who many of you will remember from his excellent coverage of the St. John's IceCaps, reached out to me to attempt to compile a truly complete look at the league. Dart took on the heavy lifting of digging up some of the Eastern Conference deals and compiled this list below.
Note that some of the deals are currently unknown. If you know something definitive about one of these unknown teams, please comment below the story. Here we go in alphabetical order.
Current contract expires at the end of this season, but it appears another 5-year deal has been mutually agreed upon, extending the contract to the end of the 2021 - 2022 season.
Deal ends this season. Moving to Stockton, California. Will be replaced by an ECHL team.
Current deal expires after 2018-2019 season, per Ottawa Citizen. Independently owned team and unlikely to move from Binghamton.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Brett Yormark is interested in moving the Sound Tigers to Long Island, but their current lease has them locked into Webster Bank Arena until 2021.
The Checkers are moving from Time Warner Cable Arena to Bojangles Coliseum for the 2015-16 season. It's a ten year deal but is divided into two five-year blocks of time. They will be the major tenant at the 'new' building ($16 million in improvements being done to it before the move in).
Checkers owner Michael Kahn is one of the minority owners of the Hurricanes, and that partnership should guarantee a continued Checkers affiliation.
The Wolves will basically never leave Allstate Arena. However, the independently-owned Wolves' affiliation deal with St. Louis expires in 2016.
Grand Rapids Griffins
The Griffins are independently owned by Dan DeVos and David Van Andel. The pair have owned the team since the inaugural season in 1995. The team is affiliated with the Red Wings through the end of 2016-17. Further, the team agreed to a 10 year lease with Van Andel Arena in September 2012. The agreement has three five-year extensions built-in and could run until 2037 if they all pan out.
Current affiliation with Montreal expires at the end of the 2016-2017 season. An NHL team is almost in the back of the mind as a possibility for the market. Could be involved in a shuffle with Winnipeg's affiliate. See St. John's.
Hartford Wolf Pack
Expires end of 2017-2018. Possibly moving to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum when completed and Islanders move to new arena next season.
According to MSG, one or more professional sports franchises will play at the Coliseum, from among the New York Liberty, Rangers-affiliated Minor League Hockey, and/or Knicks-affiliated NBA D-League team. Hartford would be that Rangers-affiliated minor league team (unless they want to move an ECHL team).
Independently-owned club that will never move. Just celebrated its 20,000th goal as an organization. Not going anywhere.
Wild are owned by the Minnesota Wild. Their five year lease at the Wells Fargo Arena expires after 2017-18.
Lake Erie Monsters
The Monsters reached a "multi-year extension" in November 2010. It has been 'multiple years' since that news. The affiliation has been rumored to be one of those that might move west to be closer to their parent org in Denver. However, Cleveland is a big city with hockey history. You have to believe Columbus would love to solidify their hold on Ohio with an in-state AHL affiliate.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Arena just opened this year and appears to be set for a while. However, no information is available on the arena deal term.
One of the five teams moving West next season. Will be replaced by the Kings' ECHL affiliate and is likely to keep the same name.
Agreement with the Predators expires after 2016-17. No information on Bradley Center deal.
Moving to San Diego, another Navy town. An ECHL team will move to the Scope to continue the tradition of hockey in Hampton Roads.
Oklahoma City Barons
Moving to Bakersfield, California. Will not be backfilled by an ECHL club.
Current affiliate deal with Arizona expires in 2015. Arizona is one of the teams believed to be in the next wave of teams that might move west. In the interim, the affiliate might change over. Current thought is Florida with San Antonio getting Arizona.
Independently owned by H. Larue Renfroe. Their expiration on their deal at the Dunkin' Donuts Center is 'not anytime soon'. Mark Divver reported that the Bruins extended their affiliation with Providence last summer. When he asked CEO Jeff Fear how long the extension was for, he answered "forever."
The Buffalo Sabres own the Amerks, so that affiliation is pretty set.
The lease has expired with the City of Rochester at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. Talks are on hold because the city decide what arena renovations/improvements are necessary. There will be a firm studying impact of renovations and what absolutely must be done soon. Thus, rather than make commitments to what might exist in terms of an arena, the Amerks just renewed for this current season, rolling over terms of the old agreement.
The contract between the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks is currently in it's 8th season of a 10-year agreement. It is set to expire at the end of the 2016 - 2017 season.
San Antonio Rampage
Per sources, the Florida Panthers deal with the Rampage expires after this season (14-15). The Rampage are owned by the Spurs, so they are not leaving the AT&T Center or the city of San Antonio as long as that is true.
It appears to be a year-by-year agreement for affiliation with Columbus. There is no information on the arena deal. Speculatively, Columbus would probably love to move their affiliation to Lake Erie (Cleveland). Springfield is the home of the AHL league offices and a historic franchise, so I don't see this team going anywhere no matter what happens.
St. John's IceCaps
In September 2014, True North Sports & Entertainment (TNSE), owners of the Jets, announced an extension of one year with the St. John’s IceCaps through the 2015 - 2016 season.
The Jets also desire to move their affiliate closer and have stated interest in Thunder Bay, Ontario as that destination. Construction has not commenced on the new arena in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is "unlikely to be complete until the start of the 2017-18 hockey season at best."
At the same time, the Hamilton Bulldogs contract expires at the end of the 2015 - 2016 season as well, setting up for a possible transition to St. John's. IceCaps Chief Operating Officer Glenn Stanford was the former Governor and President of the Hamilton Bulldogs before the resurgence of an AHL team in St. John's in 2011, and remains in good health with the Montréal Canadiens organization.
Tampa and Syracuse renewed their affiliation this past summer through 2016-2017. The independently-owned Crunch and the War Memorial have an agreement until 2024.
Further, the War Memorial is supposed to undergo extensive upgrades this summer.
Northland Properties, which owns Dallas and Texas and manages the CPC, has a lease on CPC until 2034.
The Marlies are owned by the Maple Leafs and are unlikely to leave the city of Toronto ever. Their deal with the Ricoh Coliseum, however, is an unknown.
Utica is owned by Vancouver, who bought the Peoria Rivermen two years ago and moved them to New York. The Canucks are committed to the city until after 2015-16 and will re-evaluate at that time.
The expenses the club has already racked up are immense: hosting this year's All Star festivities and improving the arena in Utica.
Owned by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the WBS Penguins are the number one tenant at the Mohegan Sun Arena are have a contract signed through the 2018-2019 season.
Moving to San Jose, California. Will not be backfilled by an ECHL team.
Thank you to the following who helped compile information:
Charles Dart, Rinkside Report
Mark Divver, The Providence Journal
Chris Wassel, The Hockey Writers
Tony Androckitis, Hockey's Future/ Highland Park Hockey
Matthew Speck, The Hockey Writers
Nissa Khan, The Hockey Writers
Allovimo, Chairman How's Glorious Army
Jenni, Chasing Checkers
Tom Mitsos, The Hockey Writers
Mark Scheig, The Hockey Writers
Patricia Teter, Artful Puck
Jason Iacona, Chirps From Center Ice
Jon Allred, Finz & Stiches
Anthony Tartamella, Isles Blog
Jake Gittler, The Hockey Writers
Kevin Oklobzija, Democrat and Chronicle Media Group