News cycles can be dominated by big stories, and of course the big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning is battling the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. But of course, the league moves on even though the playoffs are ongoing: Teams are looking at next season, hunting new coaches, plotting draft strategies and setting their personal draft boards, and other logistical and business type stuff involving each NHL franchise individually.
No matter that the Bolts are neck-deep in the playoffs, the business of the club and the long-term planning for the team rumbles on as the following rumor shows.
While this article focuses on the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates and questions about their affiliation going forward, there are a couple of other casually referenced forthcoming affiliation changes in store for the AHL clubs.
It's expected that Tampa Bay will announce shortly that they will be leaving the Norfolk Admirals for the Syracuse Crunch, which will leave the Anaheim Ducks looking for a new parent club. They were affiliated with the Pirates from 2005-'08 before heading Des Moines.
Wait, wait, wait... The Lightning are looking to end their affiliation agreement with the Norfolk Admirals? Say what? Syracuse Crunch? I beg your pardon?
The Admirals 2010-11 season was the first season a Tampa Bay Lightning AHL/IHL affiliate ever made the playoffs. It was the Ads first season in the playoffs since affiliating with Tampa Bay as well. We've heard about Norfolk being much happier now with the affiliation than they had been under the regime of OK Hockey.
Things are improving, the affiliate is happy; it's in a logistically sound location compared to the team it is affiliated with. Why change things now?
Bolt Prospects has a conversation ongoing about this on their message board. Reasons are discussed, questions raised... It's a good spot to continue to monitor this to see if it has merit in the end.