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NJ Devils End Affiliation Early With AHL Binghamton

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Although nothing official as of yet from the parent club regarding the AHL affiliation in Binghamton as it appears it has come to an end between the two Cities with a dispute over money

The New Jersey Devils have pulled out of Binghamton as an empty Arena is all that remains for the rabid fan base of the Southern Tier of NY.
Photo Credit: JustSports Photography / Binghamton Devils

I am bitter. Let’s make that extremely bitter.

However, if some of you have looked for a vented trash piece, this isn't it. Let’s follow my lead and remain classy Binghamton.

New Jersey Walks

After four seasons the end is near as the New Jersey Devils looked to have parted ways with the Binghamton Devils with a year left in the initial five-year agreement. It was a short ride as it lasted only three and a half seasons for the home fans to celebrate before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived canceling the season as things shifted towards Newark this season.

This comes as a shock for many throughout the Binghamton Community, including the hockey world with an emphasis towards the AHL franchises as I had envisioned a solid relationship that would continue as long as the previous tenure with Ottawa. A relationship that lasted for 15 years and included a Calder Cup Trophy in 2011.

What’s troubling is there has been no official announcement from the parent club as my recent emails have not been answered and no responses through social media. The league will have final approval on May 16th through a vote.

The first red flag for myself was the lack of communication by New Jersey on several avenues throughout social media with no mention of player movements as fans had to rely on Cap-Friendly as an example. With that type of example, it left me with no choice other than to follow suit with their lead without further updates and prospect profiles or live game actions on Twitter. I blame the parent club on a lot of different levels but this one, in particular, showed a lack of respect for the fanbase in Binghamton.

I’m so disappointed as I had a lot to share with recent prospects, but my hands were tied as my loyalty is with my hometown backing.

Long time fixture and President Tom Mitchell had this to say during a recent interview;

I think the demands New Jersey was putting on us were impossible, not something that was even reasonable. They basically decided, since we didn’t meet those requirements that they would go elsewhere,” Mitchell said. “We’re looking at all of our options. Obviously we’re extremely disappointed. This community didn’t need this. Binghamton has been a solid part of the American Hockey League for the better part of 50 years, and we’ve been a good partner. And it could be for another 50 years. We certainly didn’t deserve this.” ~ PressConnects

There have been very disappointing results record-wise, as the Binghamton Devils are currently 5-13-5-1 and 92-116-25-5 lifetime in their fourth season with nine games remaining as the club finished in 5th, 8th, 4th, and 7th place respectively since the inaugural 2017’- 18 season in the AHL’s North Division. The most exciting time was last year right before Covid-19 forced the shut down as the BDevils were hot and gaining momentum after a terrible start.

On the other hand, some positive views on many prospects as I had front row seats on many occasions watching and reporting upfront.

Recent Arena Upgrades

There were rumors that the facility was not up to snuff.

Wrong.

Expansion of locker facilities, new glass, boards, seating, video displays including end-side ribbons, lighting, audio, and a new seven-level parking garage within footsteps as well as eight skyboxes a while back. Besides, there were extensive plans to make the encompassing area a hockey mecca event in downtown Binghamton. So anything concerning the Arena is just garbage.

Built in 1973, hockey was born in the Southern Tier of NY and it took off immediately with fans attending packed houses for years on end. The Arena has been my second home for the past 40 plus years as I have witnessed the transformation of this beautiful barn and it has something that is lacking with others, character. I respect what it has been through thick and thin as it continues to evolve with the current demands it has faced. Although the Devils did not come out publicly, their demands were meant and it will continue for the next tenant.

The bottom line, it’s about corporate greed and the root of all evil, money.

Fan Reactions

I will say the NJ Devils fanbase has been all positive during this fiasco with plenty of good wishes and thank yous for the coverages. I am overwhelmed with emotions as I have enjoyed the banter with every one of you, as I was deeply entrenched within this organization in more ways than one. Your support over the years is something I won’t soon forget.

I can’t share everyone’s thought’s, but this one, in particular, struck me the most:

“Thank you so much for your phenomenal coverage of the Devils prospect pool these past several years. Though I am a longtime fan of NJ’s hockey team, I find a majority of the recent decisions by their top brass to be disgraceful and this one is no exception. I have little doubt that they are the catalyst at fault for this shameful state of affairs. You and the rest of the dedicated Binghamton fans deserve so much better than what the Devils have given you.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting your beautiful city over a dozen times for AHL games and I absolutely love it; the area is filled to the brim with things to see and do, the people are kind, and the arena staff is top-notch - they were always wonderfully accommodating when I hit traffic during the long commute to the arena and never denied me the opportunity to purchase a ticket no matter how late I was.

As my respect for the Devils organization dwindles, my support for Binghamton will remain. The Rumble Ponies, along with whatever hockey team comes in next, will have my backing. I look forward to future sporting success in Binghamton and, hopefully, your continued coverage of it. Take care and thanks again.” - Anonymous

A Final Farewell

It has been a pleasure in sharing my thoughts with you all and enjoyed my time covering the Binghamton Devils this and every season. It’s been a fun ride for the past eight or nine years and part of the experience involving SBNation, including my previous connection at FanSided with the Ottawa Senators at SilverSeven.

I am as well signing off as an employee for the BDevils Hockey Club, as I have been actively involved since the beginning, including time back at the start of the Binghamton Senators era which covers 17 years in total. It has been an adventure in which I will never forget. I want to expand on the journalism side of things a bit further as I feel that is my forte on moving forward if/when a new team arrives and hopefully back with SBN. Regardless, Gary, Tyler, Ben, Ron, Shimes, and Josh keep up the good work running the ship. And Keith, you are a legend, and continued good luck with your WWE journey.

One final salute to my fellow Panel members. Each one of you has brought something to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed our daily communications just chatting about hockey and prospects in general. Fans have recognized the talent level each and every one of you has focused on when asked about your thoughts on our quarterly feature of Grades & Evaluations on a certain prospect. Stepping back as a fan, I hope you all enjoyed their efforts dating back to the Senators including these past four seasons for the BDevils.

Onto my next journey and thank you all for your support!