Washington ends 12-year run with Portland

Updated: April 29, 2005, 5:57 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate has moved much closer.

On Tuesday, the Capitals announced the Hershey Bears as their AHL affiliate beginning with the 2005-06 season. The move ends the team's 12-year affiliation with the AHL's Portland Pirates.

The Bears, who joined the AHL in 1938, have reached the playoffs 57 of their 68 seasons, winning eight titles. Hershey, Pennsylvania is an estimated 135 miles from Washington -- over 400 miles closer than Portland, Maine.

"We are excited to announce our partnership with the historic Hershey Bears," Capitals general manager George McPhee said. "They are a great organization and a model franchise in the AHL. The Capitals look forward to a successful relationship that will benefit everyone involved.

"Hershey has a tradition of being a great hockey town and its proximity to our market is attractive to our organization fan base."

The Capitals missed the NHL playoffs in 2003-04, going just 23-46-10-3. The 2004-05 season was wiped out, making the NHL the first major North American sports league to have an entire season canceled due to a labor dispute.