COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have reached an agreement with the Lake Erie Monsters to have the Cleveland-based team serve as the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate, Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson and Monsters President Kerry Bubolz announced today. The multi-year affiliation agreement will begin with the 2015-16 season.
“The Blue Jackets couldn’t be more excited and proud to have the Lake Erie Monsters as our American Hockey League affiliate,” said Davidson. “Both organizations are committed to winning and providing a great experience for hockey fans and we believe Cleveland, whose hockey roots date to the late-1920s, is the perfect place for our young players to grow, develop and have great success. Our sport has grown tremendously throughout the state of Ohio in recent years and we believe this partnership between two great hockey markets will allow us to continue that growth.”
The Monsters are owned by Dan Gilbert and Cavaliers Hockey Holdings, LLC and play their home games at Quicken Loans Arena, along with the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators. The 2015-16 season will be the Monsters’ ninth as a member of the American Hockey League with the club having served as the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche over the past eight years.
”Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters are very excited to be a part of this new affiliation partnership with the Columbus Blue Jackets,” said Bubolz. “Having this AHL-NHL connection in the state of Ohio will be great for the Monsters and Blue Jackets organizations, co-partners such as Fox Sports Ohio and all of the great hockey fans in the state. We look forward to this unique kinship with the Blue Jackets hockey operations staff, coaches, players and business team, both on and off the ice in Cleveland and Columbus.”
Prior to the Monsters, Cleveland was home to the AHL’s Cleveland Barons from 2001-06 and the International Hockey League’s Cleveland Lumberjacks from 1992-2001. Professional hockey in the city dates to 1929-30 as the International Hockey League’s Cleveland Indians debuted that season, which began a 49-year stretch of professional hockey clubs in the market, including the original Barons of the AHL (1937-73), the World Hockey Association’s Crusaders (1972-76) and NHL’s Barons (1976-78). The city and their AHL teams hold nine Calder Cup Championships.
The Monsters replace the Springfield Falcons, who served as the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate for the past five seasons. During that time the Falcons posted four-straight winning seasons from 2011-15 and won back-to-back Northeast Division titles in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
“We’d like to thank Charlie and Sarah Pompea, Bruce Landon and everyone we’ve worked with in Springfield for their support and hard work over the past five years,” said Davidson. “The Falcons are a first-class organization and we wish them all the best moving forward.”
Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland and this past season’s Springfield coaching staff of head coach Jared Bednar and assistant coaches Nolan Pratt and Toby Petersen will lead hockey operations efforts for the Monsters in 2015-16.
A press event with representatives from both organizations to officially announce and celebrate the new partnership will be held in the Greater Cleveland area within the next week or so. Date, time and location details will be announced in the coming days.