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Report: Albany Devils moving to Binghamton

Report: Albany Devils moving to Binghamton

They rank last in attendance this season
Report: Albany Devils moving to Binghamton
The Albany Devils may be on the move to Binghamton next season.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Last April, the New Jersey Devils signed a three-year lease with Times Union Center to keep their American Hockey League team, the Albany Devils, at the downtown Albany arena.

Apparently, the Devils won’t be sticking around for the final two years of the contract.

According to media reports, it appears the Devils will be relocating the franchise to Binghamton next season. Binghamton is losing its AHL team, the Senators, at the end of this season. Ottawa is relocating to Belleville, Ontario.

The Times Union was the first to report the story. WNYT (Channel 13) confirmed it. It could not be independently confirmed by The Daily Gazette.

TU Center general manager Bob Belber was aware of the report, but wouldn’t comment, instead waiting to speak Sunday, when the AHL Governors meet in Allentown, Pa., to vote on the move. The league’s All-Star Classic will be in Allentown Sunday and Monday.

Albany Devils spokesman Josh Heller declined to comment. Attempts to reach AHL officials proved unsuccessful.

When the three-year deal was announced last year, New Jersey Devils president Hugh Weber said, “There were better business deals elsewhere.”

The Devils rank last in attendance in the 30-team league this season, averaging 2,888 fans. Binghamton is next-to-last with an average of 3,435. Last year, the Devils were 28th in average attendance at 3,366.

The AHL has played at the TU Center since the 1993-94 season, when the Capital District Islanders moved from RPI’s Houston Field House after three seasons there. The Devils became the affiliate, and the team became known as the Albany River Rats. They won the Calder Cup in 1995.

The Devils relocated their players to Lowell, Mass., after the 2005-06 season. The Carolina Hurricanes came in and were affiliated with the River Rats until the 2009-10 season, when they moved to Charlotte.

New Jersey came back right after that, and changed the team’s nickname from the River Rats to the Devils.
Albany made the playoffs last year, beating Utica in the North Division semifinals in four games, and then losing to the Toronto Marlies in seven games in the division final.

Entering Wednesday, the Devils lead the North Division with 50 points.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Ken Schott at 395-3159, [email protected] or on Twitter @slapschotts. Read his take on pro and college hockey any time by checking out his blog, Parting Schotts.

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