The Carolina Hurricanes have a new AHL affiliate in the Chicago Wolves.
In a press release on Thursday, the Canes announced a 3-year deal to partner with the Wolves starting with the 2020-21 season.
“We are proud to be affiliated with such a historically and financially successful American Hockey League franchise,” Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said in the release. “I’m confident our prospects will receive first-class treatment in Chicago, while continuing to be guided by coaches, management and trainers who work closely with the parent club in Raleigh.”
“We want to continue the relationship we had,” said Wolves chairman Don Levin in the Wolves’ press release. “I don’t want to change anything. We had great communication and we like helping each other succeed. NHL general managers want to win championships with their players that are being developed by their AHL affiliate. That’s exactly what we want to do.”
All players whose rights are owned by the Hurricanes will remain with the Carolina organization and as such will relocate to Chicago to play when the AHL season starts back up.
The first inkling that the Hurricanes would be moving away from their former affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, was reported by Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest in February.
Some speculation the Carolina Hurricanes could move their #AHL team out of Charlotte and into Chicago. Carolina GM Don Waddell has history and a solid working relationship with the Wolves from his time with the Atlanta Thrashers. Would create an opening in Charlotte.— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) February 11, 2020
This initial rumor was mostly brushed off by most as it seemed outlandish at first glance and was an outside report, but a few months later on April 29, Luke DeCock of the News and Observer reported that the Carolina Hurricanes were likely to cut ties with the Charlotte Checkers after a decade long partnership.
This report was soon corroborated by the Checkers who released a statement the same day stating that they were aware that the Hurricanes were approaching an agreement with the Chicago Wolves and that they would be exploring their own options.
Waddell never offered any statement on the AHL affiliate decision beforehand outside of pushing any sort of comment off, claiming on multiple occasions throughout the pause and return-to-play that they would have more to say in coming days or weeks.
The Charlotte Checkers will also now be the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers first reported by George Richards of FloridaHockeyNow.com just a week ago and confirmed by the organization on Thursday.
The move is one that has puzzled many as the Hurricanes had been assimilating a one Carolina mantra with the original move of it’s now former AHL affiliate 10 years ago, and the recent change of its ECHL affiliate from Florida to Greensboro with the Swamp Rabbits.
Sara Civian of the Athletic has hinted that there may be more to the story than a one-sided fallout, but currently there is no clear information on what exactly influenced the move outside potential monetary benefits.