SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds have announced that the franchise has signed a five-year affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, beginning with the 2020-21 season.
“Our two organizations share a commitment to community, fan engagement, and putting a first-rate product on the ice,” said Thunderbirds president Nathan Costa. “With this partnership, we believe the future is bright for professional hockey in Springfield.”
After winning their first Stanley Cup championship in 2019, the Blues currently sit in first place in the NHL’s Western Conference.
“Springfield is a strong franchise in a city with a rich hockey history,” said Blues president of hockey operations and general manager Doug Armstrong. “Our partnership will allow us to continue to develop our players and further strengthen our franchise as a whole.”
The new pairing comes after St. Louis’ current AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, were purchased by the Vegas Golden Knights in late January and approved by the league to move to Nevada for the 2020-21 season.
With both the Blues and AHL’s Chicago Wolves left without a partnership next year, rumblings persisted that (in spite of the bad terms these two teams split on when they separated as affiliates in 2017) the two clubs could possibly reconcile and become affiliated once again.
However, as Springfield’s affiliation with the Florida Panthers expired after this season, the door was open for an agreement to be reached with another franchise.
With the St. Louis quashing those rumors and hitching their proverbial wagon to Springfield, that leaves Chicago still searching for an NHL parent club this coming season. Word is that the Carolina Hurricanes may part ways with the Charlotte Checkers in 2020-21, choosing to affiliate with the Wolves instead.
The developing affiliations for next season will be monitored by those here at The Sin Bin. Tune in to Twitter, Facebook, and of course our main website for all the latest news and insights for AHL, ECHL, and SPHL minor league hockey coverage!