If anyone was hoping that the Blues would help bring an AHL team to Kansas City for easy travel - both by the players and fans - do I have news for you:
No, that’s not happening.
The Blues announced a five year deal with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL today. The Thunderbirds aren’t in Springfield IL or Springfield MO - they’re in the (formerly) enemy territory of Springfield, MA.
The Thunderbirds started their existence in 2016 as the affiliate of the Florida Panthers; prior to that, they were the Portand Pirates. The Pirates were relocated to Springfield for the 2016-2017 season after the local Springfield Falcons.
There seems to be a theme with their mascot.
Since the team’s relocation to Springfield, they have not made the AHL playoffs; getting an injection of the Blues’ prospect talent may help turn the tide there. Their current roster, save for five players, are signed to a Panthers contract, not a Thunderbirds mascot.
From the teams’ joint press release:
“We are excited to announce our deal with Springfield and close our search for a new affiliate,” said Armstrong. “Springfield is a strong franchise in a city with a rich hockey history. Our partnership will allow us to continue to develop our players and further strengthen our franchise as a whole.”
”We are pleased to announce our affiliation agreement with the St. Louis Blues,” said Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa. “Our two organizations share a commitment to community, fan engagement, and putting a first-rate product on the ice. With this partnership, we believe the future is bright for professional hockey in Springfield.”