Editors Note: Everyone please welcome William Rogers who will be covering the Whale for Black & Blueshirts going forward! You can find him on twitter at @bigbillrog.
Hey everyone, I am going to be contributing to Black and Blueshirts as a fan, and follower, of the CT Whale (Rangers AHL Affiliate).
FIRST and foremost, I am not someone who is by any means a professional, I am a FAN. I am a fan of the CT hockey scene, a season ticket holder for the Whale, and the New York Rangers (even after the loss in NJ, which I expect Chris Christie and Marty Brodeur are celebrating over a few dozen doughnuts from some dirty half tanning salon half bakery)
I will only be writing as a fan, with my own opinion, and being in CT, bringing you (NY Rangers fans) inside information on the AHL affiliate, through observation- BOOM-
Now, let my first Black and Blue (and Whaler green) post be about the situation in Hartford. I am going to break this down simple, since it is not portrayed as a simple thing, on any news outlet, any hockey site, or any bathroom stall at the XL Center.
***The CAPITAL REGION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (CRDA) is going to make a decision on which of the bidders, will own and operate the XL center. This decision is said to be made this week.***
-AEG is the current contract holder with the XL Center
-MSG (Rangers) have the current AHL contract with AEG
-AEG’s contract expires after this season
-There are a few top bidders for the new contract (Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum, AEG, and Capital Region Sports and Entertainment Group)
-UNTIL there is a contract awarded to one of these companies, MSG has nobody to negotiate the next season with.
FURTHER complications came last week when the examiner reported that Harbor Yard Sports (Owner of the Bridgeport sound tigers, the NY Islanders AHL affiliate) registered two domain names (CTRANGERS.com and CONNECTICUTRANGERS.com), this added to speculation that the Rangers were undoubtedly on the move from Hartford, where they have been since the Hartford Whalers packed up for Carolina in 1997.
So, with all that being said, where does Hartford Hockey stand you ask? Right here. Recent information has been released that the XL Center contract will not go to anyone, I repeat, ANYONE, who will not secure an AHL team. All three bidders are also currently in contact with MSG, hoping to keep the Rangers affiliation in Hartford. To squash Islander/Bridgport rumors, Howard Saffan, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers president stated that he does not have any reason to leave Bridgeport, and that the Islanders affiliation is contractually obligated through 2021.
The cold hard fact is that MSG would have to have explored other options, since they have had nobody here in CT to speak to. However, the announcement will be made this week. With a new lease, the rent should lower, percentages should be higher, buzz should be louder, and hopefully, that amazing relationship with the world class New York Rangers grows stronger. All of this should begin to unfold in the next day or two. So here’s to hoping NYR keep the AHL in Hartford, where many future hall of famers have honed their skills with hall of fame coach Ken Gernander, in the XL Center, in front of a solid, growing fan base. Thanks for reading.