The Utica Comets could remain the Vancouver Canucks’ affiliate for an extended period.
Comets officials said Wednesday that they were working with the National Hockey League team on an extension to remain their American Hockey League affiliate. The Comets said they hope to have a deal completed before the end of this year. The Comets said they would not comment further on the situation Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Comets president Robert Esche told the Observer-Dispatch that the Comets and the Canucks have had “a remarkable relationship” during their affiliation, which began in June 2013. The Whitesboro native and former NHL goaltender told the O-D he felt the partnership would “go on for a long time,” despite a recent trend that has NHL teams moving their AHL affiliates closer to their home arenas.
Esche is also the president of Mohawk Valley Garden, Inc., which operates the Comets. The group signed a six-year contract with the Canucks in 2013, when it was announced that professional hockey would be returning to the Mohawk Valley.
The Comets have been a popular draw since they began playing during the 2013-14 season. The team, which made a remarkable run to the Calder Cup finals during their second season, has sold out 55 consecutive games while playing at the 3,860-seat Utica Memorial Auditorium. Those are numbers not witnessed before for a pro hockey team in the Utica area.
The Comets open the 2016-17 regular season Saturday in Toronto.