If you’re a fan of the Rockford IceHogs, today was a good day. The Chicago Blackhawks have officially announced the purchase of the minor league affiliate, agreeing to keep the IceHogs in Rockford until at least 2036. The two clubs had already been affiliated since 2007, but the IceHogs had previously operated as an independent and were owned by the city of Rockford.
While the purchase price comes in at $11.8MM, the deal will also include further investment in the BMO Harris Bank Center. The Blackhawks become the 21st NHL team to own their AHL affiliate, a situation that only helps the development and stability of minor league players.
Rockford is having a terrible season, winning just six of their first 19 games in the remade Central Division. But with this kind of investment, the Blackhawks will have even further incentive to make the IceHogs not only a development stop but a dominant minor league franchise.
Many of the players that have helped Chicago become Stanley Cup champions in the past have spent time in the AHL with Rockford. Names like Corey Crawford, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brandon Saad, and Andrew Shaw all spent some of their formative playing years with the IceHogs, developing the skills that would lead them to success in the NHL.