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Checkmate: Charlotte Checkers sold; Rangers need new ECHL home



            On Jan. 26, Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union wrote a story that Walter Robb, the long-time owner of the AHL River Rats, an affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, would sell the team to a buyer in Charlotte, N.C.

            "The Carolina Hurricanes have said publicly that they would like to have their prospects play closer to their Raleigh home base. A source close to the situation said that the Hurricanes and Charlotte struck a deal Monday for the city to house the Carolina prospects, and that the franchise to be relocated is the current Albany team. "That's certainly one of the options," Robb said, "but it's not over until the fat lady sings. Nothing is definite."

             According to a story on WRAL-TV in N.C. today, a press conference tomorrow will confirm that the ECHL Charlotte Checkers will be sold and become the Canes minor-league affiliate. So the NYR will need a new ECHL home, presumably closer to the metro area.

             In the Times-Union story, Robb said if he sells the team to the Charlotte buyer that he will assist in Albany securing another AHL franchise.

            "One strong rumor is that the New York Rangers, who own their AHL team that plays in Hartford, may be interested.

              "It's a Rangers-owned team, a Rangers-controlled team, it's a little complicated," Robb told the paper,  "but, yeah, it's a good thing. That would give us television of our players often. The situation with Carolina, they didn't play very often (on TV) unless you subscribe (to the NHL's "Center Ice" package). There are multiple teams looking, perhaps changing their affiliation."

              I believe, however, that the Rangers/Hartford Wolf Pack have a five year lease, with two more years remaining, in Connecticut's capital.  

             As of July 2007, Northland AEG, the XL Center building operator, became responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the Wolf Pack, including marketing, sponsorship and ticket sales, while Madison Square Garden and the Rangers retained ownership of the Wolf Pack and continue to be responsible for on-ice team decisions, including coaching and player movement.

            Could the Rangers put an ECHL team in Albany? Perhaps. 

New York Sports