The Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2023-24 season, Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan and Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer announced today
The Bears recently completed their 15th season as Washington’s AHL affiliate under the current agreement. Hershey has qualified for the playoffs in 12 of the last 15 seasons, excluding the cancelled 2019-20 season. Hershey won the Calder Cup in back-to-back seasons as the champions of the AHL in 2009 and 2010 as well as in 2006. Hershey has reached the Calder Cup Finals in five of the 15 seasons it has been affiliated with Washington under the current agreement, most recently in 2015-16. No AHL franchise has reached the finals more times in that span. The Capitals and Bears boast the seventh-longest current NHL-AHL affiliation.
“We have enjoyed our long-lasting partnership with the Hershey Bears and are excited to extend our affiliation,” MacLellan said. “Hershey has a tremendous history within the American Hockey League. They are well-run and a first-class organization. We believe the franchise’s winning culture provides our prospects with the best opportunity to develop.”
This season, 14 former or current Bears played for Washington: Travis Boyd, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Martin Fehervary, Braden Holtby, Tyler Lewington, Beck Malenstyn, Dmitry Orlov, Michael Sgarbossa, Ilya Samsonov, Jonas Siegenthaler, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson.
“The Hershey Bears are thrilled to continue our partnership with one of the NHL’s elite franchises,” said Helmer. “Together, the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals have established a winning culture that goes hand-in-hand with organizational development at both the AHL and NHL levels. The Bears and Capitals have experienced success and championships during this long-standing affiliation, and we look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.”
The Bears, the AHL’s oldest and most decorated franchise, boasted one of the league’s top attendance marks, averaging 8,753 fans per game at Giant Center during the shortened 2019-20 season. The club has led the AHL in overall attendance in 12 of the past 14 seasons. Giant Center seats 10,500 for hockey and is located less than 140 miles from Capital One Arena.
The Capitals and Bears were previously affiliated for seven seasons from 1977 to 1984, including the Bears’ 1980 Calder Cup championship.