The Columbus Dispatch is reporting tonight that the Jackets and the Crunch were unable to come to an agreement on a renewal of their affilation. The Jackets will no longer use the AHL's Syracuse Crunch as their farm team, and will instead partner with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL.
On a personal level, I have mixed emotions on this move. I follow the AHL quite closely, and I have always wanted to see the Crunch do well. That said, the past couple of seasons have seen me grow sour on the Crunch to an extent. I enjoy reading Lindsay Kramer's blog- in fact I link to it in a sidebar here on The Cannon. The problem with Kramer's blog though, is the people who comment on it, and the tone of some of his posts. It seems there are never-ending complaints regarding the partnership, with accusations such as: "Columbus doesn't care about Syracuse" and "The Blue Jackets do nothing to help the Crunch".
I call bullshit. The Jackets have consistently made trades and signed players for the sole intent of improving the Crunch. Look at this year. Deals were made to bring in guys like Brendan Bell, Tomas Kana, Greg Moore and Chad Kolarik. These guys haven't even sniffed NHL ice. Those players were brought in to make the Crunch better. Over the years there have been similar deals, with limited success. You can't fault the Blue Jackets- they always, year in and year out tried to make the Crunch a better team.
I am excited for this fresh start. The Falcons aren't one of the marquee franchises in the AHL, and some would argue that they are only in the league because the AHL HQ is in Springfield. I think that at least for next year this partnership could be something special- a new home for some of the incumbent prospects that Columbus has playing in Syracuse, and a change in culture as well. The new prospects such as Matt Calvert, who haven't experienced Syracuse, can be part of the first wave of Columbus prospects who have spent time as Falcons.
At the end of the day I wish the Crunch well, but it really bothers me that parts of the Crunch fanbase and media honestly believe that Columbus never made a complete effort towards making the Crunch a good team. I look forward to cheering for the Falcons and I can't wait to see them in action.