Lightning to share affiliate with Phoenix

By Megan Sexton

After two seasons with the International Hockey League’s Detroit Vipers, the Tampa Bay Lightning has entered into an affiliation with the Springfield Falcon’s of the American Hockey League.

Tampa Bay will share the affiliation with Phoenix Coyotes. Each team will be allowed to send ten players to Springfield.

Phoenix General Manager Cliff Fletcher served as Senior Advisor to Tampa Bay GM Rick Dudley last season. The two have maintained a good relationship, which played a part in the affiliation.

“Having Wayne Gretzky and Cliff Fletcher in Phoenix and [President & General Manager] Bruce Landon in Springfield makes us very comfortable with this shared affiliation agreement,” Dudley said in a Press Release issued by the Lightning. “For an arrangement like this to work successfully for everyone involved, it is essential to maintain strong relationships with both your NHL and your AHL partner. It is clear that the relationship we maintain with those in management in Phoenix and Springfield will make this arrangement work successfully for everyone involved.”

Many of Tampa’s prospects suffered on a hapless Detroit Viper team over the past two seasons. The Vipers only posted 45 wins during the time affiliated with Tampa Bay. With the shared affiliation, Tampa prospects will be able to play at a higher level while in the minor leagues. Player’s who should be playing at the ECHL level, will be able to do so, rather than being used to fill an affiliate roster, as we saw frequently in Detroit.

The agreement with Springfield will mark the fifth IHL/AHL affiliation Tampa Bay has entered into since it’s nine years ago.