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Get to know the Blues' new AHL affiliate

by Elise Butler / St. Louis Blues

Not every hockey player makes the show right away. For many, before they wore the Note, they spent time developing in the minor leagues.

Of the 31 players that the Blues brought to the bubble for the 2020 postseason, 25 of them have played in the American Hockey League, including many with the team's most recent affiliate in San Antonio. With the Rampage being relocated to Nevada in 2020-21 as the Golden Knights' farm team, the Blues needed a new partnership. And they found one quickly, announcing an affiliation with the Springfield Thunderbirds in March.

With a number of exciting young prospects in the system, fans may be eager to keep tabs on the future Blues. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about our new AHL affiliation with the Thunderbirds.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: We're excited to announce a new five-year affiliation agreement with @TheAHL's @ThunderbirdsAHL, which begins in 2020-21. #stlblues



Who are the Thunderbirds?

Based in Springfield, Mass., the Thunderbirds are a relatively new team, having joined the AHL in the 2016-17 season. But professional hockey has a long history in Springfield. Prior to the Thunderbirds' arrival, Springfield was home to the Indians (1926-1994) and Falcons (1994-2016).

How long is the affiliation for?

The affiliation agreement between the Blues and Thunderbirds is for five years, beginning with the 2020-21 season.

Do we lose all our prospects in the affiliation change?

No, any player under contract with the Blues is still part of the organization.

When is the 2020-21 AHL season starting?

The AHL was forced to end this season early due to the coronavirus pandemic. In late July, the League announced Dec. 4, 2020, as the revised start date for the upcoming season. League and team officials continue to monitor developments and guidelines and further details regarding the schedule have yet to be determined.

How can I keep up with Thunderbirds news?

You can follow the team online or on social media at @ThunderbirdsAHL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



The new affiliation between the Blues and Thunderbirds isn't the only hockey connection between the two cities.

Some familiar names have spent time in both Springfield and St. Louis, including coaches Jimmy Roberts, Joel Quenneville, and Brad Shaw; and players such as Barclay Plager, Marc Bergevin, Terry Yake and Manny Legace.

And before he became the voice of the Blues, radio broadcaster Chris Kerber was on the air for the Springfield Falcons. Kerber was with the team from 1996-2000, serving as PR Director and Broadcaster.

"Springfield has one of the great hockey histories of any city in the United States," said Kerber. "It goes back to the late '20s and they've had a team every year since. While having different owners - including Eddie Shore - names or affiliations, their impact on players, management, coaches and yes, even broadcasters, can't be denied.

"Fans will love it. A great, renovated cozy building. Just a 30-minute drive north of Bradley Airport. Awesome fans and just great people in Western Mass. I loved it there. It's a second home to me and I was only there four years."

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