BY MIKE GRIFFITH, Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The two-year relationship between the Condors and the National Hockey League Anaheim Ducks is over.
The Condors were the ECHL affiliate of the Ducks for the past two seasons and were loaded at the beginning of last season with top-notch players as the Ducks did not have their own American Hockey League franchise.
But the Ducks now have an AHL team in Syracuse, N.Y., and having an ECHL affiliate 2,700 miles away certainly is not convenient.
"The Ducks, with their alignment to Syracuse, would like some arrangement with a team back East," said Condors President Matthew Riley. "It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a player from Bakersfield to Syracuse and have them play that night."
The Ducks no longer have a reference on their website as to their ECHL affiliation and the Condors are no longer listing the Ducks as an affiliate on their website.
Riley said there was still a possibility of getting some players assigned to the Condors by the Ducks ("They could call tomorrow and tell me they couldn't get a deal done back East and want to send us six players or they aren't going to send us any or they want to send one. I just don't know," he said) but has talked with several NHL teams and would like to have an affiliation locked up as soon as possible.
"We'd like to have something sooner than later but we're not really in the drivers' seat," he said. "From the NHL perspective, they certainly have their priorities. We're pounding the pavement, so to speak, but it takes two to tango."
And Riley figures the Condors could well be tangoing with two NHL teams when all is settled.
"There are 30 NHL teams and 19 ECHL teams so the math doesn't equal out," Riley said. "It's a situation where there could be dual associations."
A West Coast affiliation would be nice, but there is just one AHL team that falls in that category -- the Abbotsford (B.C.) Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. The Flames were affiliated with the Las Vegas Wranglers last season at the ECHL level.
"I want the best deal or deals I can get," Riley said. "I mean, who can provide us with the best players? At the end of the day we're looking for the best people and the best players whether they are free agents or an NHL team sending us contracted players."
Condors coach Marty Raymond is recruiting players and working on deals to bring some players back from last season, but until an affiliation agreement or agreements are reached, he can't be certain of all of the needs.
"You don't want to under recruit," Riley said. "The sooner we can know or have an idea of how many players and what positions we can count on from an affiliation the better we can focus on the holes we need to fill."