The Cincinnati Cyclones have made an affiliation change, as the ECHL club is now partnering with the Buffalo Sabres.
For Cincinnati, the move comes following a 10-year partnership with the Nashville Predators, while the Sabres recently concluded a two-year relationship with the now-defunct Elmira Jackals. This affiliation will be a reunion of sorts for the cities of Cincinnati and Buffalo, as the Sabres’ American Hockey League (AHL) Affiliate from 1971-1974 was the Cincinnati Swords.
“We are thrilled to begin our relationship with the Buffalo Sabres organization,” remarked Cyclones general manager Kristin Ropp. “They have a great passion and dedication to cultivating the depth of their organization, and we are proud to work with them and the Rochester Americans to see this to fruition.”
Members of the NHL since the 1970-71 season, the Sabres have compiled an all-time record of 1,614-1,312-409-101, having qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs 29 times and twice appearing in the Stanley Cup Final. Ten members of the Hockey Hall of Fame have suited up for the Sabres including goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Grant Fuhr, defensemen Tim Horton and Phil Housley, and forwards Dale Hawerchuk and Pat LaFontaine, and they currently boast one of the top players in the NHL in forward Jack Eichel.
“We are very happy to be working with the Cyclones for the upcoming season,” said Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. “Part of building a championship-caliber team is having effective and cohesive player development across all levels of the organization. That is especially true at the minor-league level and I think that we have found a strong development partner in Cincinnati. The Cyclones have built a reputation for being a competitive ECHL club, while helping players refine their games and progress to the next levels of professional hockey.”
The Rochester Americans will serve as Cincinnati’s new AHL affiliate, and have been the AHL affiliate of the Sabres since the organizations realigned prior to the 2011-12 season. This is not the first time Cincinnati and Rochester have been affiliated, as the two clubs teamed up in 2010-11 when the Americans were affiliated with the Florida Panthers.
There will also be a familiar face behind the bench for Rochester in assistant coach Chuck Weber who was head coach for the Cyclones from 2006-10, leading them to Kelly Cup championships in 2008 and 2010.
The Americans and Sabres have been affiliated since the 1979-80 season, and aside from a three-year stint with the Panthers from 2008-11, the teams have been affiliated for 35 years which marks the longest active relationship between an NHL team and its AHL counterpart.
Additionally, the 2016-17 season also saw 16 different players earn call-ups to Buffalo, including six that made their NHL debuts. Rochester is the second-oldest team in the AHL, having wrapped up their 61st season in 2016-17, and they have earned six Calder Cup championships since their inception in 1956.
The Cyclones begin their twelfth ECHL campaign on Saturday, October 14 against the Kalamazoo Wings.
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