Some big news dropped this evening as the Vancouver Canucks and Utica Comets announced that they have reached an agreement to extend their AHL affiliation for up to six more seasons but guaranteed to remain there until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 30, 2018
As Ben Birnell with the Observer-Dispatch reporter shortly after the deal was announced, both sides felt that reaching an agreement was inevitable and it was just a matter of time. Unless I am mistaken, a deal had to be reached by December 31st, so they were working with a deadline and were able to come to said agreement a day early.
There has been a lot of debate that about whether the Canucks should have their farm team in upstate New York as it presents a travel issue when a player is needed in a short period of time but there is little doubt that the Comets are well supported within the community. Including tonight’s Comets game, they have a sell-out streak of 132 straight games and counting. The building is rocking and even despite some early season struggles, the fans filled the barn every night.
Canucks management has pointed to that atmosphere and the ability to practice often as some of the main reasons why they like the farm team to be in Utica. GM Jim Benning remarked about the Comets fans in the press release:
“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with Utica,” said Jim Benning, General Manager, Canucks Sports and Entertainment. “The Comets share our organization’s level of commitment and philosophy in player development, providing a strong environment for growth. We believe the culture in Utica, combined with the great fan support and atmosphere at games, will continue to be beneficial for the players in our system.”
With the Canucks having so many prospects that they hope to be a part of the future, it makes sense why they wanted to keep the team where they are and keep that boisterous atmosphere surrounding them.