Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Admirals
Nashville director of hockey operations Michael Santos speaks at Thursday's press conference in Milwaukee. The event announced an extension of the two parties' affiliation agreement through 2009-10.
Nashville Predators Executive Vice President/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the club has extended its affiliation agreement with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League through the 2009-10 season.
"I like to say that for our players, the road to Nashville runs through Milwaukee and a look at our roster illustrates this," said Poile. "The Milwaukee Admirals have cultivated a winning tradition, earning two trips to the AHL Calder Cup Finals in the last three years and a championship in 2004. With the stable and trusted leadership of head coach Claude Noel, the Milwaukee ownership group led by Harris Turer and Jon Greenberg's front-office staff, this is the kind of environment that we want our prospects to develop in.
"With the Milwaukee organization working together with our own, led by Paul Fenton [Milwaukee's general manager and Nashville's assistant GM] and Michael Santos [Nashville director of hockey operations], this has been and will continue to be a partnership that rewards both teams, and most importantly, the hockey fans in both cities."
In the nine years that the two clubs have functioned as affiliates, it has become customary for Nashville Predators to pass through Milwaukee en route to the National Hockey League. Eighty-two players have played at least one game for both teams, and Predators assistant coach Peter Horachek served as the head coach of the Admirals in 2002-03.
This season alone, NHL YoungStar Alexander Radulov along with forwards Patrick Leahy and Scottie Upshall and defensemen Sheldon Brookbank, Kevin Klein, Mikko Lehtonen and Greg Zanon have appeared in games for both Nashville and Milwaukee. 2006 NHL All-Star Kimmo Timonen started his North American pro career with Milwaukee in 1998-99, and 2006 NHL YoungStar Shea Weber did the same last season. Other Nashville Predators that spent time developing in Milwaukee include goaltenders Chris Mason and Tomas Vokoun, defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Suter and forwards Martin Erat, Vernon Fiddler and Jordin Tootoo.
Milwaukee is currently in third place in the AHL's West Division with a record of 26-19-3-6. Two Nashville prospects (Sheldon Brookbank and Ville Koistinen) played in the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic. Admirals leading scorer Rich Peverley (24g-33a-57pts) ranks seventh in the AHL scoring race, while Brookbank (9g-29a-38pts) ranks second among league defensemen in scoring.
The Admirals have been Nashville's primary developmental affiliate since the Predators' inaugural NHL season in 1998-99. Milwaukee joined the AHL in 2001 after 24 seasons in the International Hockey League.