The Rochester Americans affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres ended after the 2007-08 season, as Buffalo teamed with the Portland Pirates and Rochester was left with the Florida Panthers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2000. There appears to be hope of the Amerks and Sabres reuniting in the near future. Staff writer Dan Goldman feels that would be a good move for both sides.
The last three seasons of Rochester Americans hockey have been hard for me to watch. It’s not because of the team’s mediocre record. The reason I used to closely follow the Amerks was the team’s affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres, which allowed me to see the future stars of the National Hockey League team.
The affiliation ended after the 2007-08 season, as Buffalo teamed with the Portland Pirates and Rochester was left with the Florida Panthers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2000.
There appears to be hope of the Amerks and Sabres reuniting in the near future. Buffalo radio station WGR-AM 550 asked new Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black if the team is interested in purchasing or becoming affiliates with the Amerks. Black said the ownership group is going to consider everything.
“We have a deal in place with Portland (and) it extends for two or three more years,” Black told the station. “But, I also know affiliations change.”
I don’t know how contracts work between NHL teams and their minor league affiliates, but I’m assuming there’s a way the Sabres could escape their contract with Portland, since the ownership group is discussing the possibility of reuniting with Rochester.
Rochester’s three-year deal with Florida is over, so the Amerks need to find a new parent club. It makes so much sense for it to be the Sabres.
Reuniting with Buffalo would likely mean an increase in ticket sales for Rochester. The Amerks do a good job with the gameday presentation, through contests and entertainment, but the problem has been interesting players. I know I’d be excited to see Sabres prospects like Luke Adam, Paul Byron and Zack Kassian wearing red, white and blue.
Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier likes to build through the draft and the franchise usually has talented players in the American Hockey League. Sabres prospects have won the last three Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Awards, which is given to the AHL’s most outstanding rookie.
The Sabres would benefit by building on an already strong fan base in the Rochester area. I know the team isn’t starving for money, but I’m sure they’d save a few bucks by having players drive up the Thruway instead of flying on a plane from Maine when they are called up.
Black used to work for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who own and control their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. That arrangement can work — Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2009.
I always like looking back at old Rochester team photos and seeing popular Buffalo players like Matthew Barnaby, Rob Ray, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller.
Hopefully the 2011-12 Amerks photo will include the future stars of the Sabres.