Just months after it began, the working agreement between the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals and NHL’s Nashville Predators is being terminated.
In May of this year, the Admirals announced that they were entering into an agreement that would make the Predators their NHL affiliate. The new arrangement effectively ended the Admirals’ run as an affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, and aligned them with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL and the Predators in the NHL.
However, just a relatively short time into the current ECHL season, the Admirals are confirming that their agreement with the Predators has been terminated. The club has struggled both in terms of attendance and wins and losses during the 2017-18 season, thus far playing to a record of 5-13-1 and averaging 1,981 fans at home games.
According to a report from The Virginian Pilot, the reason for ending the agreement had to do, in part, with the Admirals’ recent decision to fire team president Michael Santos:
A source close to the team, who asked not to be identified, said the working relationship that began less than seven months ago was ended in part because the team fired its president, Michael Santos, this month.
Santos, who had been director of hockey operations and assistant general manager for the NHL’s New York Islanders and director of hockey operations for the Florida Panthers, was hired by the Admirals last November.
Santos negotiated a working agreement with the Predators and Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League, according to the source.
The Milwaukee Admirals confirmed in an email that two players – defenseman Rick Pinkston and goalie Matt O’Connor – were reassigned to Atlanta of the ECHL as a result the Predators’ decision.
The Admirals also stated that the statuses of head coach Robbie Ftorek and his staff are not affected by this decision. The end of the agreement was announced on Tuesday evening.
“The affiliation change announced today does not affect the normal daily operations of the team or the Admirals’ organization as a whole, but is a sign of the commitment this organization has to do whatever it takes to ensure the team’s success here in Hampton Roads,” Admirals chief revenue officer Trent Ferguson said in a statement that was issued by the team. “The only thing that drives our business and team decisions is our continued mission to create a shining organization that this area can be proud of.”
The ECHL incarnation of the Admirals have played at Norfolk’s Scope since 2015, filling a void of hockey that was created by the move of the AHL Admirals to San Diego after the 2014-15 season.
RELATED STORIES: Norfolk Admirals, Nashville Predators Announce Affiliation