SYRACUSE — The Syracuse Crunch announced a new seven-year affiliation extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday.
During a news conference held at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Crunch owner Howard Dolgon said the club would be with the Lightning through the 2022-23 season with mutual options for 2023-24 and 2024-25. The teams have been affiliated since 2012-13.
Dolgon said the Crunch have previously been affiliated with Vancouver, Columbus and Anaheim over the years, but none of the relationships have been as good as with Tampa Bay.
"Just watching them operate and having been in this game now 24 years, we know what quality is and they are," Dolgon said. "They're the top of the heap."
The Crunch have qualified for the playoffs four times and made two Calder Cup Finals appearances over the last six seasons with the Lightning. They lost to Grand Rapids in both 2013 and 2017.
Dolgon said the decision was not only about the success on the ice, but the investment Tampa Bay puts in its players and staff off of it. He noted the team has added more coaches, equipment managers and a massage therapist to accommodate players.
Dolgon recalled a meeting with Lightning general manager Julian BriseBois at the league meetings in July.
"We were just chatting and working out some of the details, and Julian said 'I don't want to go anywhere. You don't want to go anywhere. This is a great relationship and we love working with each other,'" Dolgon said.
Other notes from the press conference:
* Dolgon discussed the latest upgrades to the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Work is being done to finish up the private club, six suites, the upgraded scoreboard, new marquee and renovated bathrooms before opening night on Oct. 13. The plan is also adding more cameras for game action and TVs on the concourse for people to watch the game while ordering from the concession stands.
"We all know it was something the building needed and something the community deserves — our fans and the community in general," Dolgon said.
* Dolgon noted they are down to three "legitimate" candidates for naming rights to the war memorial.
The hope is that the agreement would be for 10 or more years, with a part of the proceeds to help local veterans.
* Dolgon teased that the opening night ceremony will include a nod to the team's history.
"I think we've had some pretty exciting home openers. This will be with some nostalgia to it," Dolgon said. "We think we've got some history now with 24 years here. Fans who have been with us for that long — and there are some who have — but even those who have just been here recently I think will appreciate what's happening on Oct. 13."