CHARLOTTE, NC— Charlotte Checkers owner Michael Kahn announced today that the American Hockey League Board of Governors has approved his purchase of the AHL’s Albany River Rats franchise, as well as the team’s relocation to Charlotte to begin play in 2010-11.
The Checkers will enter into a multi-year affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes and become the primary training ground for Hurricanes prospects.
The partnership will unite North Carolina’s two biggest cities, Raleigh and Charlotte, and form marketing and operational synergy between the state’s only two professional hockey teams. The Queen City will play host to the highest caliber of hockey that it has seen since it was introduced to the sport in 1956.
“I am extremely excited to bring AHL hockey to Charlotte,” said Kahn. “The city of Charlotte has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and with that comes expectations of a higher level of professional sports, hockey notwithstanding. Fans will now be able to watch a player in Charlotte one night and with the Hurricanes the next. Hockey is and will remain an important component of the Charlotte sports landscape and we will continue to be the best family sports entertainment value in town.”
The agreement provides advantages both on and off the ice such as savings on travel, cross-promotion and marketability of players as they develop into future NHL stars.
"We are very pleased that Charlotte will be the new home for the Carolina Hurricanes' top prospects," said Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford. "Charlotte has a proud hockey heritage spanning more than five decades, and we are excited that the Hurricanes will be a part of the new era of Checkers hockey."
The AHL, which will celebrate its 75th-anniversary season in 2010-11, serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 84 percent of all current NHL players are graduates of the American Hockey League.
“I am excited to welcome the city of Charlotte and its great fans to the excitement, intensity and world-class skill level of the American Hockey League,” said David Andrews, AHL President and CEO. “This partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes will provide fans throughout the state a chance to witness first-hand the development of the NHL’s stars of tomorrow.”
The Checkers currently play in the ECHL and have for the past 17 seasons. The ECHL has been an integral component in helping the team establish credibility in the Charlotte market and has provided a high level of hockey as evidenced by the numerous players that played their way to the AHL and NHL. The team will continue to play in the ECHL in hopes of winning a championship and helping promote current Checkers players to the next level.
Kahn has also stated that a separate announcement will be made in the coming weeks concerning other details surrounding the move.