Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And where there are Devils… well, you get it. There are hints being dropped from Newark to Binghamton to Utica and it all points toward a change in AHL affiliation for New Jersey. According to multiple sources, the club is expected to move their farm team, currently the Binghamton Devils, to Utica, currently the home of the Utica Comets, affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. The move is expected to take place before next season and team would be re-branded as the Utica Devils. There is no word yet on the Canucks’ affiliation plans or the AHL future in Binghamton.
News first emerged hinting at this change on Friday when WBNG in Binghamton reported that there was a growing dispute between the ownership of the New Jersey Devils and the Binghamton Devils. Though it is unclear which side feels it has been wronged, it is believed that Binghamton playing the current season in Newark is considered part of the problem. The current agreement between the two organizations extends through the 2021-22 season, but it seems that it could be cut short by this current animosity.
Digging for answers as to where their team might be headed, WBNG discovered that Utica Comets president and former NHLer Robert Esche recently filed a trademark with the USPTO for “Utica Devils”. The wide-ranging application requests a service mark not only for general advertising use, but also for a number of merchandise groups. There are clearly big plans in place for this trademark, even though the AHL has not yet received a formal request for the location change. WBNG also notes that Utica does have an opt-out clause after this season in its affiliation agreement with Vancouver, making it a realistic landing spot for the Devils.
Then earlier today, WBNG reported that, whether it be to Utica or elsewhere, the AHL Devils are on the move. Binghamton Exec. VP of Operations Tom Mitchell confirmed that the team has received formal notice of the dissolution of their agreement with New Jersey. “The demands [the New Jersey Devils] were putting on us were absolutely impossible and we just couldn’t comply with them,” Mitchell said. “So it looks like we’re going to part ways, and just try to move on.” Mitchell did not know about any previous talks that New Jersey may have had with Esche and Utica, saying he was surprised to hear about the trademark application. As far as Binghamton’s hockey future, he could only add that he felt the city could attract another pro team and will get to work on that immediately.
As for Vancouver, perhaps the party most in the dark in this situation, The Province’s Patrick Johnston reports that the Canucks have not made a comment on the situation and not much is known about their future affiliation plans. A recent trend in the AHL has been for NHL teams to move their prospects closer to the main club, so the Canucks’ keeping their affiliate out in the Eastern U.S. might not make much sense. Johnston notes that the team has previously discussed the possibility of an affiliate in Abbotsford, British Columbia, the former home of the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. He also notes that California now sports a large quantity of AHL clubs, soon including the Seattle Kraken’s affiliate as well, so Vancouver could look at options in that area as well.
dave frost nhlpa
So the Devils have screwed over Binghamton,Albany,Utica,and now get a chance to screw them again.
They need to move the club to Atlantic City and then practice at the same facility as the parent club.
Eventually this will happen with some clubs.
Don’t forget Lowell!
You shouldn’t include Albany on the list.
The Devils left Albany because there was no fan support. Albany has a terrible history of supporting professional sports teams. They just won’t spend any money to go to games.
That’s kinda unfair, Albany supports their arena football team, the Valleycats baseball, and it was the Devils who trashed the River Rats brand in favor of the stupid Devils brand, screw that. Albany just landed a new NLL franchise as well, they must be doing something right. They have an ECHL team in that area to, Glens Falls NY isn’t that far north. Bottom line is the Devils organization sucks, they dont care about cities and their fans up in NY. You never heard fans in Albany get too choked up over the devils departure. The fans in Albany were just too smart.
It was always baffling to me why Utica was ever Vancouver’s AHL affiliate. Yeah, it’s only 3,000 miles away.
There are quite a few reasons actually:
1) When Vancouver was looking to move in 2013, there weren’t any AHL teams on the west coast.
2) The Canucks liked the idea of their team being in the northeast because the travel is easier.
3) Utica had a strong ownership group.
4) There is a long history of professional hockey in the Utica area so the fan support is there.
Vancouver didn’t like their minor league squad all the way out in NY, that is simply not true. They didn’t want the headache of ruining the AHL organization. If the Devils are heading to Utica its out of shear brilliance (or survival mode) from Esche because he to knew in a post pandemic world Vanvouver wasn’t staying here long.