The Buffalo Sabres Wednesday announced the team signed an affiliation agreement with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, the professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the NHL. Elmira joins the Rochester Americans, the Sabres' AHL affiliate, as the chief minor-league development teams for the Buffalo Sabres organization.
"Proper development is essential in maintaining a competitive roster at the NHL level," said Sabres General Manager Tim Murray. "Having Elmira as an additional source to develop our young talent will certainly help our entire organization going forward. We're proud to have the Jackals as part of our organization and, with the Amerks in Rochester, we now have the added bonus of working with minor-league affiliates that are no further than 150 miles from Buffalo."
The Jackals, founded in 2000 as part of the United Hockey League, have been a member of the ECHL since 2007 and were the league's regular-season champions in 2011-12. The team is located in Elmira, and has been affiliated with several other NHL clubs, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators and, most recently, the New Jersey Devils.
"This is a landmark day for the Elmira Jackals," said Jackals owner and president Nate Cook. "We're excited about developing a strategic partnership that integrates all of the resources that both the Sabres and Jackals have to offer. The relationship with Buffalo is going to ensure that the Jackals put a competitive team on the ice season after season, and continue to bring family-friendly entertainment to the Twin Tiers."
"This is great news for Jackals fans in Chemung County and the entire region," said Tom Santulli, country executive for Chemung County. "The Buffalo Sabres are a strong organization with a large fan base in our community, which will only increase with this new affiliation. We are very excited to a part of the Sabres organization as they begin to rebuild their championship franchise."
The ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, is considered the premier "AA" professional hockey league and has sent hundreds of players, coaches, officials and administrators to the AHL and NHL ranks since its founding in 1988.