The Ottawa Senators will move their American Hockey League affiliate to Belleville, Ontario, next season after the team announced Monday that owner Eugene Melnyk has purchased the Binghamton Senators.
The Senators and the city of Belleville also agreed to an eight-year lease for the Belleville Senators team to play in Yardmen Arena, which will be renovated to accommodate professional hockey for the first time in the city's history. The remodeled arena will seat 4,400.
The move brings the Senators' top prospects within a 2 1/2-hour drive from Ottawa. It also creates natural rivalries with the Montreal Canadiens' AHL team, which is moving to Laval, Quebec, next season, and the Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Hockey is back in Belleville," Melnyk said. "The people of Belleville are a deeply passionate and proud hockey community. This community has truly earned the return of hockey and I am committed to making the Belleville Senators an integral part of the city.
"This is the dawn of new era of hockey in Belleville and we are excited to be part of it."
The Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League played in the city from 1981-2015.
Ottawa has had its AHL affiliate in Binghamton since the 2002-03 season; the Binghamton Senators won the Calder Cup in 2011.