Oilers go with new AHL affiliate

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

The Edmonton Oilers are getting back in the AHL business.

The former Edmonton Road Runners franchise will resurface in Oklahoma City starting next season. The move puts an end to the Oilers affiliation with the Springfield Falcons, who’ll now be in the market for a partnership with another NHL club.

On Tuesday, the Oilers had a media conference in Oklahoma City announcing the move.

“There were a couple of reasons for the move,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “First and foremost, if you speak with any general manager in the Western Conference, they’ll tell you that they’d rather have their affiliate as close as possible to their team. This move allows us to get a time zone closer to Edmonton, which will allow more efficient travel.”

With the Oilers about to go through a rebuilding phase, they’ll need the support of a strong development system and figured the best way to do it was by running their own affiliate.

Oklahoma City had been looking for a way to bring professional hockey back to the city and the partnership with the Oilers had been in the works for well over a year.

“This will allow us to reestablish our franchise in a good sports market,” Tambellini said. “It has a very rich hockey history dating back to the old Central Hockey League days.”

The Oilers signed a five-year deal with Oklahoma City to accommodate their AHL team.

The new affiliate, which has yet to be given a nickname, will play out of the 13,500-seat Cox Convention Center.

“It’s a great arena,” Tambellini said. “It’s one of the top areas in the league, a great sports facility with great sports fans. Playing here will also help us attract some of those AHL veterans that will help in the development of our young players.”


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