The Vegas Golden Knights have signed a multiyear agreement with the Chicago Wolves (AHL) to serve as the NHL team’s top affiliate, but current parent St. Louis Blues will still send players to Allstate Arena in the upcoming season.
The Golden Knights will begin play as an expansion team for the 2017-2018 NHL season,
For Wolves owner Don Levin, the appeal of signing a deal with the Golden Knights was simple: he says Vegas GM George McPhee is committed to winning championships at the AHL level.
“If you look at George McPhee’s history, he has always been a general manager who believes that winning is an important part of developing players,” Levin said in a press statement. “Professional playoffs are different than the regular season and he understands that and he wants his players to be ready to win.”
During the nine seasons when McPhee served as the Washington Capitals’ GM and the Hershey Bears worked with the Capitals (2005-14), Hershey captured three Calder Cup championships.
“American Hockey League affiliates play a significant role in the success of all NHL clubs and are we are proud to have the Chicago Wolves as our first in team history,” McPhee said. “I would like to thank Don Levin, Wendell Young and the rest of the Wolves organization for their commitment to the game and helping young hockey players grow to reach their full potential as professionals. Chicago is without question one of the strongest, most passionate hockey communities in North America. This is a relationship that we truly believe will be mutually beneficial.”
For the Blues, the agreement means St. Louis will not have a main AHL affiliate for the coming season.
“The St. Louis Blues will not renew our primary affiliation with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves past the 2016-17 season,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in a press release. “We will associate with the Vegas Golden Knights and supply players to the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate next season.”
The move is seen as temporary. Indeed, this move will again spur talk about a Blues top farm team in Kansas City, should AHL expansion happen for the 2018-2019 season. That talk was all over the place, but basically centered on Lamar Hunt Jr. owning an AHL team playing out of the downtown Sprint Center. Hunt already owns the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks — a Blues affiliate as well.