GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes and the Springfield
Falcons ended a 10-year affiliation agreement Thursday, leaving the
Coyotes in need of a top farm team.
The Coyotes offered no comment beyond saying they were looking
for another minor league alignment for the 2004-05 AHL season.
Springfield (14-26-5-2), which has the fewest points in the
28-team American Hockey League, signed a three-year agreement later
Thursday with Tampa Bay. The Falcons had been the Coyotes' top
affiliate since 1994 -- two years before the NHL franchise moved
from Winnipeg to Phoenix.
"There are some pluses, I think, to being in the same time
zone," said Springfield general manger Bruce Landon, who called
the parting amicable.
"I just think we needed to make a change to give the fans a
fresh look and the organization a fresh start," he said.
Tampa Bay and Phoenix had been sharing an affiliation with Springfield since the 2001-02 season, with each placing 10 players on the club and Phoenix employing the coaches.
"We are extremely pleased to be affiliating with one of the
best-run franchises in the American Hockey League," Lightning
general manager Jay Feaster said. "I have known Bruce Landon
for almost 15 years now and have had the pleasure of working
with him the past two years and also against him for eight years
in Hershey. He is one of the best owners and operators in the
AHL, and he consistently runs a first-class operation."
Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.