Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster has released a statement concerning the Lightning's search for a new AHL affiliate. The Tampa Tribune posted the following statement in a March 19 online article:
"While we have worked extremely hard, and invested significant financial, human and other resources, to return winning hockey to Springfield our on-ice results the past three years have fallen well-short of everyoneâ€™s expectations.
"We are currently in the process of negotiating to secure a first-class AHL affiliate for the 2007-08 season and beyond, and we are confident that we will be successful in our quest. Once a new affiliation arrangement has been finalized and the time is appropriate we will make an announcement concerning our AHL future.
"We want our fans to know that we continue to place a high degree of importance on our development system and we will not waiver in that regard."
For the full Tampa Tribune story, please see Bolts, Springfield to Part Ways.
In related news, the AHL announced today that the leagueâ€™s Board of Governors has unanimously approved approved the sale and relocation of the inactive AHL franchise owned by Gardens Hockey Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Rockford MetroCentre of Rockford, Ill. The team, which will be known as the Rockford IceHogs, has also entered into a 10-year affiliation agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks and will serve as the NHL clubâ€™s top development team beginning in 2007-08. (AHL.com)
As rumored, this move, now official, opens the door for an NHL club such as Tampa Bay to enter into an affiliation agreement with Norfolk.
(Edmonton Oilers Release)
03/19/07-The Edmonton Oilers are pleased to announce they have signed a new three-year affiliation agreement with the American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons, enabling the Oilers to ice their own AHL affiliate for the first time since 2004-05.
The new partnership will see the Oilers top prospects playing in Springfield, Massachusetts for the next three seasons, beginning in October 2007.
By all appearances, Johnstown is done.
Morgan Cey allowed 5 goals on 26 shots in the loss. Gus Katsuras and newcomer Rob Lehtinen had the Chiefs goals with individual assists belonging to Zbynek Hrdel, Maxime Boisclair, Jean Desrochers and Dimitri Tarabrin.
Johnstown now finds themselves 8 points behind 5th place Reading for the final playoff spot in the ECHL North Division and while the Chiefs still hold games in hand that could get them back in the hunt, the sad truth is that with Randy Rowe injured and Stanislav Lascek, Radek Smolenak and PJ Atherton up in Springfield, this Johnstown team is running on fumes and looks like it is going to limp to the finish line of the season. Obviously for the Lightning it is going to be a long offseason as they ponder why a season that started with so much promise for their minor league system went so wrong.
TREN Bertoli, (21) (Riddle), 14:55
TREN Mondou, (18) (Tremblay, Haggett), 16:48 (PP)
TREN Riddle, (25) (Bertoli), 17:32
TREN Pandolfo, (17) , 8:44
JHN Katsuras, (6) (Hrdel, Boisclair), 14:50
TREN Tremblay, (4) (Bertoli), 16:26
JHN Lehtinen, (1) (Desrochers, Tarabrin), 18:57
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
And, just like that, the Lightning no longer control their division title destiny.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 24 shots for the loss while Marc Denis allowed 3 goals on 5 shots in relief. Filip Kuba had the only Lightning goal off assists from Doug Janik and Nick Tarnasky. The Lightning now trail Atlanta by six points in the division with a game in hand after the Thrashers' overtime win against Buffalo today. Just 4 points separate 6th place Tampa Bay and the 9th place New York Islanders now, putting the Lightning in the uncomfortable position of not only seeing their division title hopes slip away, but also seeing that making the playoffs may become a difficult task as well.
Bad, bad, bad time of year for a three game losing streak.
Washington 5:31, Tomas Fleischmann 3 (Boyd Gordon)
Washington 13:38, Tomas Fleischmann 4 (Kris Beech, Milan Jurcina)
Washington 1:14, Alexander Semin 35 (power play) (Chris Clark, Brian Pothier)
Washington 6:45, Alexander Semin 36 (Tomas Fleischmann)
Washington 8:18, Alexander Semin 37 (Kris Beech, Matt Bradley)
Tampa Bay 17:44, Filip Kuba 11 (Doug Janik, Nick Tarnasky)
Washington 10:34, Alexandre Giroux 2 (unassisted)
Washington 17:55, Boyd Gordon 5 (Tomas Fleischmann, Shaone Morrisonn)
Game sheet from NHL.com.