Speculation Swirling Around Future of AHL’s Utica Comets
Despite a COVID-complicated 2020-21 AHL season that has taken much of the fun from being a Utica Comets fan, there sure is a lot of buzz online about the future of hockey in Utica, NY.
Local media news outlets from the Northwestern North America to the Southern Tier of New York, to some national sites - like ProHockeyRumors.com - were all talking Comets this weekend and a potential affiliate shakeup. At this moment, the only thing clear is that the New Jersey Devils' organization will not have an AHL affiliation in Binghamton, NY next year and beyond, as reported by WBNG.com:
"This is devastating news to us, to the community," said Tom Mitchell, the Binghamton Devils Executive Vice President of Operations. "The demands [the New Jersey Devils] were putting on us were absolutely impossible and we just couldn't comply with them. So it looks like we're going to part ways, and just try to move on."
That story followed a Friday report from the same outlet that Rob Esche, president of the Utica Comets, had filed a a trademark request with the US Patent and Trademark Office for ''Utica Devils.''
Despite the obvious implication, what the UPSTO request actually means isn't exactly clear. Especially when you consider there was a Utica Devils AHL hockey team in Utica in the 90s.
Is it a play to corner the market on nostalgic memorabilia? Or, a move to pave the way for a fresh, new, shiny coat of ice and to lock-in future years of professional hockey at the Adirondack Bank Center?
Speculation is rampant that it is the latter. But, WIBX 950 and other local media outlets have attempted to clarify the situation with Esche, but as of this posting, calls seeking comment on the situation have not been returned.
The Utica Comets are currently an affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, however, reports indicate the team has an opt-out clause in the contract that would allow them to disengage from the Canucks organizations.
KEEP READING: See how sports around the world have been impacted by the coronavirus
CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them