(Odessa, TX) - The Odessa Jackalopes announced today that the organization has entered into an affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League's New York Islanders for the 2008-2009 season. The Jacks will also serve as an affiliate of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, New York's top farm team based out of Connecticut.
"The Odessa Jackalopes are a top-rate organization and we're proud to have them as an affiliate," said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. "Joe Clark and his staff run a great program in Texas and we're looking forward to working with them."
"We are very excited about our agreement with Odessa," Sound Tigers president Howard Saffan said. "Having strong affiliates is imperative to building the Islanders' future. Along with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), the Odessa Jackalopes will help feed the organization with not only skilled hockey players but great human beings."
The affiliation was a priority during the offseason for Jackalopes' General Manager Joe Clark, who served as a scout for the Islanders before accepting his current position in Odessa seven months ago.
"I know first-hand what kind of organization the New York Islanders are," Clark said. "We are fortunate to be part of their family. This ties us in with a legendary NHL franchise. The Islanders have a winning tradition - they own four Stanley Cup titles and have been in the playoffs four of the last six years."
"This affiliation isn't necessarily about us getting players from the Islanders organization," continued Clark. "If and when that happens, we will accommodate them in any way possible. This affiliation is more about sending Jackalopes players up and on, for them to potentially compete and earn a living at the next level."
Clark indicated that Jackalopes players will be attending Bridgeport's training camp in September.
"This is a great step for our organization," said Jacks head coach Paul Gillis. "Working with the Islanders and Bridgeport, I hope we can be of help to them at some point in the future and we appreciate their support."
The affiliation, the Islanders' first with a CHL franchise, gives New York two options at the "AA" level. The Islanders also utilize the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies for player development and callups.