In a surprising announcement from the Charlotte Checkers, the Carolina Hurricanes appear to be close to signing a new affiliation agreement with the Chicago Wolves, thus cutting ties with the Checkers, their current AHL affiliate.
STATEMENT FROM CHARLOTTE CHECKERS
While we are aware that the Carolina Hurricanes are nearing an affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, the Hurricanes have had little dialogue with us regarding this matter.
In an era when NHL teams are placing great value on affiliations with closer proximity between the two clubs, we understand the confusion that such a move would cause.
We will explore other options for our affiliation and look forward to continuing in the American Hockey League when play resumes.
The Charlotte Observer reported on Wednesday that after a breakdown in the relationship between the two franchises, the Hurricanes are close to a long-rumored deal to move their AHL affiliation to the Chicago Wolves, with the Checkers presumably becoming the Florida Panthers’ top affiliate. The deal is expected to be finalized when the AHL season is officially canceled, which could come as soon as next week. The league has a conference call scheduled for May 8.
“Nothing’s done yet, but certainly we’re looking at all of our options,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Wednesday. Chicago is certainly one of them. We’re going to keep all of our options open, take each year at a time and see how things play out.”
While the Wolves would pay the Hurricanes a larger affiliation fee than the Checkers, there were other factors that went into the Hurricanes’ willingness to change affiliates. The Hurricanes and Checkers went into this season without an affiliation agreement until the middle of training camp, when they settled on a last-minute, one-year extension of their existing deals. Negotiations over an agreement beyond this season remained stalled when the Vegas Golden Knights bought the San Antonio AHL franchise in February, opening up the Wolves as a potential AHL affiliate for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes would have an out clause after each season in any new agreement with the Wolves, and Waddell did not rule out returning to Charlotte at some point.
Outraged Checkers and Hurricanes fans have begun an online petition to keep the affiliation in Charlotte. (Here)