Comments: How do teams like Stockton and Elmira end up with TWO affiliates and we end up with none? It seemed like our affiliation worked out pretty good the last 2 years as we managed to win the division both times….previously unaffiliated we never had done that….just asking….!
Reply: Honest question, William. Yes, Elmira has two NHL affiliates – but both of of those clubs have AHL affiliates within a 2-hour drive. Binghamton is less than an hour away and Syracuse is two. Stockton has maintained their Edmonton affiliation and they also work with the Sharks (San Jose is very close as well), on a very limited basis. Most of their prospects come from the Oilers. The Western teams are a bit hampered by the geography. Stockton started their affiliation with Edmonton when they didn’t even have an AHL club, so that wasn’t an issue. Vegas’ NHL affiliate last season had an AHL affiliate in San Antonio (relatively close), while the Kings didn’t really give too many players at all to Ontario (their AHL affiliate is in New Hampshire).
While it’s true we have won two division titles with affiliations, it’s also noteworthy that the Condors won 40 or more games three times in a 4-year span WITHOUT an affiliation. Also you will remember that in the first year of the Ducks affiliation, the Condors were 10 games below .500 midway through February and needed an amazing run to make the playoffs. And almost no Ducks players were even on that team’s playoff roster.
So keep in mind that while an affiliation can certainly help, it doesn’t guarantee success. Far from it. Because while the division winners in the ECHL last season all had affiliations, all of the last-place teams in the ECHL also had affiliations.
-The Mailbag Guy