Today, Binghamton Senators Vice President of Hockey operations Tom Mitchell announced the New Jersey Devils will be moving their AHL team two hours down Route 88 from Albany, NY to Binghamton, NY.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the three-time Stanley Cup Champion, New Jersey Devils, to the Southern Tier starting in the 2017-18 season, said Mitchell. “In addition, we have a lease arrangement with Broome County to keep the American Hockey League on the ice at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena through the 2021-22 season.”
Mitchell went on to say that the team will be renamed the Binghamton Devils.
Hugh Weber, President of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center said in a press release:
“After evaluating multiple scenarios and obtaining the approval of the AHL Board of Governors, we have agreed to partner with a local operating group in Binghamton, NY to relocate the franchise for the 2017-18 season. The new arrangement will allow the organization to focus its efforts on developing our player prospects, while leaving the business operations to those with expertise in the market.”
The Albany Devils are leaving the Albany area without minor league hockey for the first time in twenty-seven years. The area has had AHL hockey since 1990 with the Capital District Islanders located fifteen minutes up the road in Troy, NY before moving to Albany in 1993 and became the Albany River Rats. When the River Rats owner sold the team in 2010, the New Jersey Devils moved their AHL team to Albany which led to the formation of the Albany Devils. The Devils haven’t had much success in Albany, only making the playoffs twice in their six years. The team is playing well this season with a record of 25-17-1-1 and sitting in second place in the North Division, but have had trouble with attendance, only drawing an average of 3,096 fans per game, last in the AHL.
For Binghamton, this will be their fifth reincarnation in AHL history, second since rejoining the league in 2003. Binghamton may not be the biggest market considering they just sit above Albany in attendance with an average of 3,463 but the area has a rich history of AHL hockey dating back to 1977 with the Binghamton Dusters. The Senators have had some success in Binghamton, winning the Calder Cup Championship in 2011 but recently the team has struggled, missing the playoffs 3 of the last 5 years.
Tom Mitchell went on to thank Ottawa in his own unique way by saying:
“The Ottawa Senators have been a great partner for 15 years and they were instrumental in helping us bring AHL Hockey back to Binghamton. I want to thank the Senators for all those years and I promise them that everytime they come to Binghamton, we’re gonna kick their ass.”