Affiliation between the Lake Erie Monsters and the Columbus Blue Jackets?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled on and off the ice this season and one of the issues they have been dealing with is trying to reach a new agreement with their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Both sides have not been able to reach a new extension to their current deal, which expires after this season. As a result, rumors are circulating the Blue Jackets might take a look at having the Lake Erie Monsters become their next AHL affiliate.

In terms of travel, distance, and a fan base, an affiliation between the Blue Jackets and the Monsters would make sense. Cleveland is an easy city to fly out of making it accessible for the Blue Jackets to call players up and Columbus and Cleveland are only two hours driving distance from each other. The two hour driving distance would make it easy for Blue Jackets management to monitor the Monsters closely and the prospects they have playing for Lake Erie. Many hockey fans in Cleveland are familiar with the Blue Jackets and support the Blue Jackets because they are Ohio’s only NHL team.

The deal would make sense in those terms but there is still the reality of certain internal  issues with the Blue Jackets and the solid relationship between the Colorado Avalanche and the Lake Erie Monsters. The Blue Jackets reported a $12.5 million loss for last season and ever since original owner John H. McConnel passed away, rumors have circulated about that the team could leave Columbus. Whether or not those rumors are valid or are there to fill up space is still in question but would be something the Monsters would have to consider before moving forward with an affiliation agreement. The Monsters also seem to be happy with their current relationship with the Colorado Avalanche and are in the middle of a five year agreement with that team. The Avalanche seem to be in the right direction in terms of their farm system and the Monsters would risk losing that by affiliating with another team.

In addition to uncertainty about the Blue Jackets future in Columbus, there is no telling whether or not interim head coach Claude Noel will be retained at the end of the season. NHL head coaches can be a vital part to draft picks, call ups, and other parts of the farm system and there is not telling what will happen to Noel at the end of the season. The Monsters already went through a transition of of two head coaches up in Colorado and may not want to go through that process with another team.

Lake Erie Monsters Hockey | AHL Hockey News – cleveland.com

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~ by jeffrsabo on February 12, 2010.

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