Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has extended its affiliation agreement with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League through the 2016-17 season.
“Our organization has been philosophically committed to an affiliation in which the road to Nashville goes through Milwaukee,” Poile said. “Our current roster supports this philosophy. The Milwaukee Admirals have cultivated a winning tradition, as evidenced by their 12 consecutive trips to the playoffs – including a Calder Cup Championship in 2004 and another appearance in the Calder Cup Finals in 2006. Led by Harris Turer, the Milwaukee ownership group has assembled a bright and dedicated staff headed by President Jon Greenberg, that has created a major league environment for our prospects.
“With the Milwaukee organization working together with ours, led by Paul Fenton [Milwaukee’s general manager and Nashville’s assistant GM], this has been and will continue to be a partnership that rewards both teams, and most importantly, the hockey fans in both cities.”
The Predators and Admirals have functioned as affiliates since Nashville’s inception in 1998-99, and more than 140 players have played at least one game for both teams in the past 16 seasons. Additionally, six of Milwaukee’s head or assistant coaches have graduated to the NHL level, including Predators Assistant Coach Lane Lambert, who manned the Admirals helm for four seasons from 2007-11, and current Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Todd Richards, who was an assistant with Milwaukee from 2002-06.
Many of Nashville’s core players spent time with the Admirals, including four of their top five point-getters in 2013-14. Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Norris Trophy finalist and Predators captain Shea Weber started his pro career with Milwaukee in 2005-06; Patric Hornqvist started his North American career with Milwaukee in 2008-09 before putting up more than 20 goals in four consecutive full seasons for Nashville from 2009-14; Craig Smith spent time in his home state of Wisconsin during the 2012-13 campaign and Roman Josi notched 40 points (6g-34a) for the Ads in 2010-11 before bursting onto the NHL scene. Two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne spent his first three seasons in North America with the Ads from 2005-08 and was with them on a conditioning stint from Feb. 28-March 2, 2014, while roster mainstays Colin Wilson, Nick Spaling, Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Victor Bartley all spent time developing in Milwaukee before becoming full-time players in Nashville.
In 2013-14 alone, forwards Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons, Simon Moser, Mark Van Guilder, Taylor Beck; defenseman Joe Piskula; and goaltenders Rinne, Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg appeared in games for both franchises.
The Admirals are one of only two teams to make it to the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of the last 12 seasons, with late-season surges the past three seasons helping to extend the streak. They went 16-5-1 in their final 22 games of the 2013-14 regular season to claim the Western Conference’s sixth seed, and in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, they claimed the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with wins on the final day of the campaign. The Admirals have accumulated the second-most points in the AHL since joining in 2001-02 after 24 seasons in the International Hockey League.