Could Be Devil of a Time
When the Ottawa Senators announced in September that they would take their American Hockey League affiliation to Belleville, Ontario beginning in the 2017-18 season Binghamton hockey fans were quite concerned about the future of hockey and specifically American League hockey in Broome County. Local ownership spearheaded by Executive Vice-President Tom Mitchell has had Ottawa as an NHL affiliate since 2002. At the time of the Ottawa announcement Mitchell was emphatic in stating that the American Hockey League was in Binghamton to stay and that a new affiliation was already in the works.
Late Wednesday word came in from Albany that the New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate was leaving at the end of this season and was heading to Binghamton to fill the void left by the Ottawa departure. In an article in the Albany Times Union and on timesunion.com author Pete Dougherty wrote that the official word is expected to come when the AHL's Board of Governors meet on Sunday in Allentown where the league is holding its annual all-star game.
Rumors of a New Jersey affiliation in Binghamton have swirled for several months. New Jersey has had its top developmental team in Albany since 2010.
There has been no statement or announcement pertaining to the New Jersey affiliation from the Binghamton Senators or local officials. One part of the puzzle that remains unclear is who will own the team in Binghamton. Mitchell and four others have comprised the local ownership group. Several sources list the New Jersey Devils as the franchise owner in Albany. Should local ownership end with New Jersey's arrival that would eliminate a local presence in the future of the franchise in Binghamton. That question is key among several that will be answered by the end of the weekend. Local ownership and the strong connections Mitchell has in professional hockey have been the foremost reasons for the American Hockey League remain in Binghamton.