The Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears will be back together for several more years. The two organizations have announced a new affiliation agreement that runs through 2023-24. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan released a statement:
We have enjoyed our long-lasting partnership with the Hershey Bears and are excited to extend our affiliation. Hershey has a tremendous history within the American Hockey League. They are well-run and a first-class organization. We believe the franchise’s winning culture provides our prospects with the best opportunity to develop.
The two teams have been affiliated for the last 15 years, during which Hershey has experienced an incredible amount of success. They have made the playoffs in 12 of the affiliated seasons while winning three Calder Cup championships.
Washington too has experienced a ton of success, as they continue to develop and produce quality NHL talent from their pipeline in Hershey. A huge portion of the 2019-20 roster has spent at least some time with the Bears.
One of the best examples of the partnership perhaps is with Ilya Samsonov, the Capitals young star goaltender. Already three years into his professional career in Russia, Samsonov came over this season and was originally assigned to the minor leagues. There’s no doubt that the structure and success of Hershey helped convince him to spend some time there, getting his feet wet before making his breakthrough into the NHL.
Hershey continues to lead the AHL in attendance, drawing over 8,700 fans per game this season.