ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2015-16 season, Capitals president Dick Patrick and Hershey president and general manager Doug Yingst announced today.
The Bears, one of the AHL’s elite franchises, recently completed their 10th season as Washington’s AHL affiliate under the current agreement. Hershey has qualified for the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons and won the Calder Cup in back-to-back seasons as the champions of the AHL in 2009 and 2010 as well as in 2006. Hershey has reached the Calder Cup final in four of the 10 seasons it has been affiliated with Washington under the current agreement.
“We are extremely pleased to extend our affiliation with the Hershey Bears,” said Patrick. “In our view, Hershey is a top franchise in the American Hockey League, and we look forward to our top prospects continuing to develop in a successful and winning culture in Hershey.”
Last season, 22 former or current Bears played for Washington: Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle, Chris Brown, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Chris Conner, Eric Fehr, Stanislav Galiev, Mike Green, Philipp Grubauer, Jack Hillen, Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Michael Latta, Liam O’Brien, Steven Oleksy, Justin Peters, Cameron Schilling, Nate Schmidt, Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson.
“The Hershey Bears are proud to continue one of the longest-running partnerships in professional hockey,” Yingst said. “This affiliation has always made perfect geographic and logistical sense, and we expect that fans in both Hershey and Washington will again have a competitive and exciting team to cheer for.”
For the ninth consecutive season, the Hershey Bears boasted the AHL’s top attendance with 372,070 fans visiting the GIANT Center in 2014-15, an average of 9,791 fans per game. The team also welcomed a new regular-season record crowd of 10,998 on April 18 when the Bears hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Giant Center seats 10,500 for hockey and is located less than 140 miles from Verizon Center.
The Capitals and Bears were previously affiliated for seven seasons from 1977 to 1984, including the Bears’ 1980 Calder Cup championship.