Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Era in Binghamton Hockey

It has been about a week since the news broke about Binghamton will be losing their longest running franchise, the Binghamton Senators. Even though I live a couple hours away now, it was sad to hear the news but I'm not surprised. The rumors have been circulating for months and Executive Vice President of operations, Tom Mitchell confirmed those rumors on Monday. The AHL team will be relocating to Belleville, Ontario after Ottawa Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk purchased the team. It is becoming a recent trend of NHL teams owning farm teams and plus Yardmen Arena underwent a massive upgrade.

My thoughts on what has transpired? Obviously, I'm sad to see the franchise of 15 seasons leaving Binghamton but at the same time, it makes sense logistically. Lately, that has been the direction of most AHL teams especially in California as of late. Massive renovations and upgrades attract new and existing fan bases. Simply, Floyd L. Maines Arena could not keep up with the newest trends. I can't even call it by its new name. I always refer to it as Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. So many memories of going to hockey games including my parents taking me there when they were the Binghamton Rangers in the early 1990's. A few more memories would be watching the Senators win their first conference title on home ice, two Calder Cup Finals games in Binghamton for the first time since 1982, their first Calder Cup Championship followed, then a parade downtown, and watching them raise the banner on opening night of 2011-2012 season.

I admire Tom Mitchell's dedication of keeping the American Hockey League here in my hometown. Yes it is difficult when franchises move but there is always a new day when the hockey tradition has not lost a step since 1973. Looking at the possible NHL affiliates, it looks like it could come down to the New York Islanders; New York Rangers; and New Jersey Devils. There is a good chance it will not be a future Las Vegas NHL team because of logistics but it will not be ruled out. The New Jersey Devils look like they are staying put in the capital district and they are still under contract even though attendance has been lackluster. Personally, it comes down to the Islanders and Rangers. If I had a choice, I would like to see the New York Rangers affiliate come back to Binghamton for the first time in 20 years. Not only does it make sense logistically but the future looks uncertain in Connecticut regarding term agreements. We'll see what happens. I just want to say thank you to everyone who was involved with the Binghamton Senators: players, front office, writers, arena staff, and most importantly the fans. I wish I can be there for the farewell season but I'll be thinking of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your hard work and dedication keeping the spirit alive.

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