As a Lightning fan, I don't remember a time in franchise history when the club had a truly strong relationship with its top minor league affiliate... Well, maybe the now-defunct Detroit Vipers of the IHL (who were owned by then-owner Bill Davidson) but that the Bolts siphoned off more assets than provided them to Detroit.
There were years in team history as well that the Bolts didn't even truly have a minor league affiliate; they either shared an affiliate or loaned out the few players that could be considered depth in the system.
At current, there is a premium on player development and organization depth with the club and that has helped create the healthy relationship between the Lightning and the Syracuse Crunch. The initial three-year deal comes to a close after this season, and Lindsay Kramer at Syracuse.com reports that the two franchises are talking about extending their agreement. The current contract between the two clubs has a pair of two-year options. Taking up that first option is in discussion now.
The relationship has been positive and seeing it continue is just fine and dandy to me. It's not like everything's been rosy for Syracuse fans though, as they felt abandoned at times last season when the Crunch struggled while the Lightning thrived with talent that had graduated from the AHL level to the NHL. With a new tier of young talent and the addition of a few AHL veterans, Syracuse should be in more competitive shape for 2014-15.