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Orleans Arena Expects To Become Home To Golden Knights AHL Affiliate Next Season

Photo Credit: Brian Idziak, SinBin.vegas

The Golden Knights AHL affiliate is currently the Chicago Wolves, but according to multiple sources that may change as soon as next year.

Per SinBin.vegas sources, Boyd Gaming and The Orleans Hotel and Casino are expecting the Golden Knights to purchase an AHL franchise and move them to Vegas to play at the Orleans Arena.

The current plan is expected to have the team play at Orleans Arena for two seasons before moving to a new rink built specifically for the AHL.

Earlier today, David Andrews, the President of the AHL, said the Golden Knights are in talks with other AHL team owners about purchasing a team.

The Orleans Arena was previously home to the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL from 2003-2014. Orleans announced in December 2013 that they would not be renewing the Wranglers lease which eventually forced the team to cease operations.

Per Wikipedia, Orleans Arena’s capacity for hockey is 7,773. The Wranglers’ highest season average attendance was 5,531.

Two teams have their AHL affiliate playing in the same building as the NHL team (Winnipeg and San Jose), while another four (COL, MTL, BOS, TOR) play within an hour drive. In Toronto, the Maple Leafs play in an arena 2.1 miles away from the Marlies. Orleans Arena is located 2.0 miles from T-Mobile Arena.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Golden Knights and Wolves had agreed to a 5-year partnership. However, a SinBin.vegas source indicated that there is an “out-clause” for the Golden Knights after three seasons.

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Sorry Cody, You’re Not A Checking Forward

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.

The question is, where would he play?

It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass

Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.

But again, where will he play?

To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass

You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.

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Wolves Calder Cup Run As Improbable As Golden Knights Stanley Cup Run

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year the Golden Knights were the talk of the sports world, becoming the best expansion team of all time and coming just three wins short of winning the Stanley Cup. It’s widely considered one of the most improbable stories in sports, but what the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, have done this year might just be even more impressive.

In the Golden Knights first season, they shared the Chicago Wolves with the St. Louis Blues because Vegas didn’t have enough players to stock a full roster. In the Wolves second season, and their first as a full blown affiliate of the Golden Knights, they are headed to the Calder Cup Final to take on the Charlotte Checkers.

Looking back, it would actually make sense for an expansion team’s AHL affiliate to have success. The plan of building through the draft, acquiring young players, and being patient in development bodes well for the minor league affiliate. However, that’s really not at all what the Golden Knights ended up doing.

The Golden Knights are firmly in “win-now” mode and have been all year. Rather than having Erik Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki, and a bunch of other younger not quite NHL ready players, the Wolves were left with just two VGK draft picks for their playoff run. Instead of allowing one of the AHL’s leading scorers to play in the playoffs, Brandon Pirri stayed with the Golden Knights. And every decision throughout the course of the season has been focused on winning the Cup, the Stanley Cup.

All the while, first-time AHL head coach Rocky Thompson has taken a group of players led by UFA’s Daniel Carr, Curtis McKenzie, and Brooks Macek all the way to the Final.

Carr turned into the league MVP after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Canadiens. McKenzie is one goal short of the AHL playoff lead after being let go from a team that lost Game 7 of the Calder Cup Final a year ago. Brooks Macek parlayed his Olympic success into a nearly point per game season in his first year in the AHL.

Plus, players like Jake Bischoff, Griffin Reinhart, Tomas Hyka, and Gage Quinney all had some of the best years of their professional careers.

The Wolves roster is a bigger bunch of misfits than last year’s Golden Knights.

It’s a testament to the scouting staff, the coaching staff, and the development staff of the Golden Knights organization. Not only can they find the William Karlsson’s, Erik Haula’s, and Nate Schmidt’s of the world, but they can also find underappreciated players to stock up a dominant AHL team. It’s quite astounding and it’s a great sign for the future of the Vegas franchise.

Winning The Calder Cup Doesn’t Mean Much For NHL Parent Club’s Future

Tomas Hyka is one of the many Wolves to watch in the Calder Cup Semi-Final. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomorrow night the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, will play in the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Obviously, winning a championship is always good, no matter what level it’s at, but just how well does winning the Calder Cup translate to future success for their NHL parent club? The answer is… not so well.

Here is what the last 10 Calder Cup Champions have seen their parent club do over the next three seasons.

YearCalder Cup WinnerYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Toronto (TOR)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Grand Rapids (DET)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsN/A
15-16Lake Erie (CBJ)1st Round1st Round2nd Round
14-15Manchester (LAK)1st RoundMissed Playoffs1st Round
13-14Texas (DAL)Missed Playoffs2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
12-13Grand Rapids (DET)1st Round1st Round1st Round
11-12Norfolk (TB)Missed Playoffs1st RoundCup Final
10-11Binghamton (OTT)1st Round2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
09-10Hershey (WSH)2nd Round2nd Round1st Round
08-09Hershey (WSH)1st Round2nd Round2nd Round

And the same table with Calder Cup Final runners-up.

YearCalder Cup Runner-UpYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Texas (DAL)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Syracuse (TBL)3rd Round1st RoundN/A
15-16Hershey (WSH)2nd Round*Stanley Cup*1st Round
14-15Utica (VAN)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
13-14St. Johns (WPG)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
12-13Syracuse (TBL)1st RoundCup Final3rd Round
11-12Toronto (TOR)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
10-11Houston (MIN)Missed Playoffs1st Round2nd Round
09-10Texas (DAL)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
08-09Manitoba (VAN)2nd RoundCup Final1st Round

So, over the past 10 years, only one team that has participated in the Calder Cup Final have seen their parent club win a Stanley Cup within three years of their AHL playoff run.

To make matters worse, you can extend it out to six years from the time the AHL team makes the Calder Cup Final, and there’s still only one team in the previous 10 years to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

That being said, of the 55 seasons listed in the tables, only 18 teams missed the playoffs.

All in all though, the next couple of weeks of hockey for the Chicago Wolves aren’t exactly about winning for the Golden Knights perspective.

This does not mean the games are not important and/or interesting to watch. Individual players who stand out in the Calder Cup Playoffs often go on to have success in the NHL. Here’s a list of a the last 10 Calder Cup Playoff MVP’s.

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VGK’s Young Stars Dominate In Wolves Debut

As fun as it was to watch the Golden Knights stun the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, the game down the road in Austin, TX was probably a better indication of the direction the Golden Knights future is heading.

In the first game as the AHL affiliate for the Golden Knights, the Chicago Wolves got a hat trick from Alex Tuch and some guy named Shea Theodore put up a goal and two assists as well. Sound familiar?

Watch the highlights, it’s basically a window into Golden Knights future, and boy is it bright.

The full box score is all sorts of glorious for Tuch, Theodore, Pulkkinen, and even the newest Golden Knight Brandon Pirri.

This season is going to feel long at times for the NHL club cause let’s be real, they ain’t all going to go like that one y’all. (Sorry, this whole Texas thing is getting to me) But this season is about more than the Golden Knights on the ice at T-Mobile, and catching a Wolves game every now and then might be a nice pick me up.

Report: Rocky Thompson Named Chicago Wolves Head Coach

Update (2:20 PM) – Both the Golden Knights and Chicago Wolves have sent out press releases confirming this hire. 

According to a report from TSN’s Elliotte Friedman, the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, have found a new head coach.

Because the Golden Knights control all hockey operations with the Wolves, the decision was made by George McPhee.

Thompson was hired to take over the head coach position in Windsor in 2015 and went on to an 81-40-11 record in two seasons which includes the Spitfires Memorial Cup win this year. Prior to Windsor, Thompson was an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers for one season. He was also an assistant with the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) and Oklahoma City Barons (AHL).

Thompson was an absolute menace on the ice as a player. He spent most of his career in the AHL, but did have short stints with the Calgary Flames (15 games) and Florida Panthers (10 games). He racked up 117 PIM in those 25 games and consistently averaged at least 175 PIM in each AHL season. One year, Thompson spent 275 minutes in the box in a 79 game season. His total was 1,382 penalty minutes in 630 career games.

From time to time, the players YouTube me and come in and say, ‘holy smokes, you were an animal.’ –Thompson to Calgary Herald

But, that’s not how he coaches.

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Quad City Mallards Announced As ECHL Affiliate

It may have been premature when it leaked a week ago, but now it’s official, the Vegas Golden Knights have an ECHL affiliate.

The Quad City Mallards have entered into a multi-year agreement to serve as the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights and the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, the Mallards announced today. –MyQCMallards.net

And with that, the Golden Knights’ minor league system is complete.

We believe that between the Mallards and our AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, our players will effectively develop in each of those systems. Quad City has a rich hockey history and we are pleased to have entered into an affiliation relationship with them in our first season. -George McPhee in Press Release

The Golden Knights will be able to transfer players to and from Quad City at any point during the 2017-18 season and beyond. The Mallards will retain control over hockey operations and will keep head coach Phil Axtell.

We’re looking forward to welcoming players from our affiliation with the Golden Knights and the Wolves to the Mallards and our community. The opportunity to help those players improve, develop, grow and take steps toward playing in the AHL and eventually the NHL is always exciting -Axtell

So there you have it.

NHL – Golden Knights
AHL – Chicago Wolves
ECHL – Quad City Mallards

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