MOLINE, IL — The Quad City Mallards have affiliated with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, as announced in their press release on Thursday.
If not for the errant tweet by the Mallards on May 19 that was then deleted, this would come as a surprise to many, myself included. I didn’t think it was likely a deal such as this would happen as I came up with the idea to write the article detailing why this deal should happen at when trying to sleep.
Insomnia apparently grants me future-vision?
I’m not exactly clear on the details either, to be honest. I will not be putting money on who wins the Cup this year, however; I mean, have you seen my bracket?
The Mallards originally tweeted the news of the affiliation agreement at 1:20 PM on Friday May 19th. They then deleted the tweet between 1:30 and 2:30, as it had vanished from Twitter by the time I got home from work. Since I had retweeted it, however, Twitter still allowed me to view the tweet and I was able to take a screenshot. My only guess as to why that occurred is that the tweet was queued and was erroneously posted early.
ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna had no information on the subject, but Mallards owner Jordan Melville explained why:
“Teams generally negotiate these deals with the AHL team so it’s not surprising that Brian wouldn’t have had many talks from his level to the NHL team,” Melville said. “Obviously, the NHL team could have a say in this especially if they also own the AHL team.”
He then said that often it’s not a matter of geography, but who a person knows.
This is a historic move for the Mallards franchise as they are now affiliated with a brand new NHL team. It’s a risky move to affiliate with the Knights, but I believe it will pay off. Mr. Melville and Mallards President and General Manager Bob McNamara must also believe in the Knights franchise to make such an agreement as this. It is necessary to consider not just the short-term benefits of a contract like this, but also the long-term benefits that could result.
“I am very familiar with people in both organizations, so I am confident this affiliation will be a great fit for the Mallards,” said McNamara. “We’re very excited to have the unique opportunity to work with the Golden Knights from day one and equally thrilled to affiliate with one of the AHL’s flagship franchises in the Wolves.”
Because of the recent affiliation between the Wolves and the Knights organization, the Wolves will also be rebuilding from the ground up, I believe. The Wolves will build a new hockey operations department and will sign players which the Knights want in the system. Whether or not the Knights and Wolves will also have a say in the Mallards roster that will hit the ice in October, I am unsure.
Mallards coach Phil Axtell added, “We’re looking forward to welcoming players from our affiliation with the Golden Knights and the Wolves to the Mallards and our community. The opportunity to help those players improve, develop, grow and take steps toward playing in the AHL and eventually the NHL is always exciting.”
This will not be the first time the Mallards will have the opportunity to receive players from the Wolves. Two seasons past, the Mallards were assigned forward Zach Pochiro from the Wolves by the St. Louis Blues. The Mallards were affiliated with the Wild, but due to the close proximity of the Quad Cities to the Chicago Wolves – who were until just this past week the Blues’ farm team – and that the Blues had no ECHL affiliate, he was assigned here. Forward Ryan Tesink, as well as goaltender Niklas Lundstrom, had also been Blues prospects assigned to the Mallards that season. Lundstrom was released by the Mallards on the same day Pochiro was assigned, due to the assignments of Steve Michalek and Brody Hoffman by the Wild.
The Wolves also appear pleased with such a deal, since the road between Rosemont and Moline is a familiar one for players:
“We’ve had a really good relationship with Quad City over the years,” said Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “We’ve had an informal arrangement to put players there and I’ve consulted with their management and coaching staff frequently. They’ve been very accommodating and we’ve always tried to help them out, too, but now it’s official.”
The Blues said that they would be associating with the Wolves and share the team with the Knights, so it’s possible that the two AHL teams will also share the Mallards as their ECHL affiliate. The Blues have not indicated who they will be working with in the ECHL, if at all, for the coming season.
The general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, George McPhee, said on Thursday:
“We are excited to add the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards as an affiliate. We believe that between the Mallards and our AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, our players will effectively develop in each of those systems.”
The new partnership starts immediately, with the fruition of it coming during the next several years.
Please consider becoming a Patron as a way to say thanks and support us for what we do! https://www.patreon.com/thesinbinhockey