The Coloradoan is reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Central Hockey League's Colorado Eagles have inked a minor league affiliation deal.
â€œYou can see a player that has the potential of playing in the National Hockey League being assigned to the Colorado Eagles,â€ Eaglesâ€™ president and general manager Chris Stewart said this evening. â€œIt gives us the potential of developing good young talent and hopefully provides us with a better opportunity to win a championship.â€
The Eagles won CHL titles in 2005 and 2007 and also played for the title in 2008 and 2009. Since Tampa also has an affiliate agreement with the American Hockey Leagueâ€™s Norfolk Admirals, players could be sent back and forth between all three franchises. Stewart said relationships between key personnel in the front offices made it a natural arrangement. Len Barrie, one of the Lightningâ€™s owners and the team president, is one of Stewartâ€™s former players, and the teamâ€™s director of player personnel, Jim Hammett, is Stewartâ€™s brother-in-law.
â€œRelationships are very important in any business, and thatâ€™s true in hockey, too,â€ Stewart said. â€œYou want to work with people you know well, and obviously I know those two gentleman extremely well.â€