CLEVELAND – On a day when the words “it makes sense” were used at least a dozen times, one obvious question was asked by Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski’s son.
“Dad…what took so long?”
It’s a fair question, young man, but one that isn’t answered easily.
The Blue Jackets and Lake Erie Monsters formally announced their new multi-year affiliation agreement at a press conference today at Quicken Loans Arena in what was a celebration of not just a new partnership, but also a “perfect marriage” between two franchises dedicated to continually growing the game of hockey in the state of Ohio.
Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson spoke about the union of two franchises separated by only 120 miles, a union that took a few years to complete but was always in the back of their minds – and one that everyone involved was very happy to complete.
“(This deal) was a thought, but you had to be respectful to the process,” Davidson said. “I think Colorado was very happy here, and we were very happy in Springfield. And then, when all the movement and talk of movement (in the AHL) started to happen and came to fruition – especially with the teams moving out to California – there was more internal talk. We got after it.”
The Blue Jackets just wrapped up a successful five-year affiliation with the Springfield Falcons, who are moving on to work with the Arizona Coyotes. The Monsters’ eight-year run with the Colorado Avalanche just came to an end, and their partnership was the only previous affiliation in the franchise’s history (Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, of Quicken Loans, bought the Monsters and they began play in Cleveland in 2007).
By all accounts, both agreements were widely viewed as beneficial and comfortable, but as Davidson said, things change and opportunities arise as time goes on. The Blue Jackets saw the benefits of aligning with an in-state partner as too good to ignore, and the Monsters were fully on board with going down the road to an eventual partnership.
And when AHL realignment became a reality earlier in the year, it made sense for Davidson and the Blue Jackets to get the ball rolling with the Monsters. The deal was completed last week after negotiations and arrangements were made to work out every last detail.
“With us and Florida and Colorado and Arizona (all changing affiliates), it took four teams to work together with a number of different cities to make sure it worked,” Davidson said. “It’s a very complicated thing. This isn’t just grabbing a group of players and moving them to another city. It took a lot of cooperation.
“There was some disappointment from some people – I’m sure Springfield enjoyed having Chris MacFarland and our group there, but when you get into the world of hockey and you’re trying to do the things that are right for your franchise and right for your fan base, trying to expand your fan base…this thing makes a whole lot of sense. We’re really excited about it. There are no negatives whatsoever.”