It was announced early Thursday afternoon that the Tampa Bay Lightning reached an agreement that will let their prospects continue to call Syracuse home for at least the next six seasons. Since the affiliation began in 2012, over 30 players have left their mark on War Memorial ice before making the jump to the big club in Tampa. Such players as Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov have once called the salt city home. Tampa Bay has prospered by way of the Tampacuse development stream, Syracuse though, has faltered. Was this a good deal for the Syracuse Crunch? Here's my take.
It's no secret that over the past two seasons Crunch fans have felt ignored and disrespected at times by their parent club, and honestly at times I couldn't agree more with those people. I have said it a million times, Julien BriseBois does a stellar job during the summer months putting together what should be a great hockey team. It seems that once the summer is over, his job is done. When a professional hockey club has to ice a starting lineup completely comprised of defensemen, there may be a problem. When a hockey team is plummeting in to the basement and you remain adamant that they are a playoff team, there may be a problem. Aside from the on and off recruitment of ECHL forward Andrew Yogan and Ryan Martindale, nothing was done and the team was left to work with what little they had left.
Now I know what people are going to say, "it's minor league hockey", blah, blah, blah, blah. It doesn't matter. Make adjustments. There is a reason teams like Scranton / Wilkes-Barre and Hershey remain competitive and make the playoffs every single year, and that's by way of adapting and retooling when the situation calls for it.
Now that I have my ranting out of the way, Crunch fans, you're welcome. I will speak on the great positive that this contract extension really is. There was once a time not very long ago where the consideration of an AHL franchise like the Springfield Falcons relocating would be considered absurd. They are one of the oldest teams in the league and after all, AHL headquarters is right down the road from the MassMutual Center. However, just last week it was announced that they would be packing up and heading to Tuscon. It seems there is zero stability in the league right now and it has every market on the edge of their seat waiting to see who is next.
It goes without saying that no matter how bad an NHL affiliate may be (not to say that Tampa is bad), us minor league fans still love the game. This contract extension ensures the Crunch faithful at least another six years of hard-hitting excitement inside the "House of pain".
Here's a look at what Crunch fans had to say about the announcement on Twitter:
Want to voice your opinion? Here's your chance!