Norfolk Admirals, NHL’s Nashville Predators terminate affiliation

Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators controls the puck. during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)

NORFOLK, Va. – The ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals announced Tuesday the organization is no longer affiliated with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League and the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

According to a release, the team will remain in Norfolk and continue to have a strong presence in the community. The Admirals announced their new affiliation with the Predators and Milwaukee Admirals May 4, 2017.

“We believe that today’s affiliation announcement was in the best interest of our organization and changes nothing in regards to the longevity of hockey in the Hampton Roads area,” Mango Media Group, the Admirals’ owners said in a statement. “We will continue to focus on the Admirals bright future in Norfolk and as always appreciate the support of our fans and community.”

“The affiliation change announced today does not affect the normal daily operations of the team or the Admirals’ organization as a whole, but is a sign of the commitment this organization has to do whatever it takes to ensure the team’s success here in Hampton Roads,” said Chief Revenue Officer Trent Ferguson. “The only thing that drives our business and team decisions is our continued mission to create a shining organization that this area can be proud of.”

When reached by phone, a spokesperson for the Nashville Predators confirmed the news but declined to get into details of the termination, citing “no benefit” in doing so. While Norfolk has the most losses in the ECHL, the Predators, coming off their first ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance, have the fourth-most points in the NHL’s Western Conference.

Two weeks ago, Norfolk fired team president Michael Santos after only 53 weeks on the job – the latest on a long list of moves adding to the team’s instability.

In a span of 14 months, the Admirals have introduced new owners, hired new team president Santos, fired head coach Rod Aldoff to hire new head coach Robbie Ftorek, announced a new NHL affiliate, fired its team president and had ties severed with its NHL affiliate.

The ECHL does not require or mandate its teams to have an affiliation with National Hockey League or American Hockey League teams.

According to the team, this move does not affect the status of Admirals Head Coach Robbie Ftorek and his staff and the roster remains intact, as the only two Admirals players under contract with Milwaukee have both moved on.

Norfolk, currently last in the entire ECHL in average home attendance, will continue the season on the road in Jacksonville with a pair of games on Thursday and Saturday against the Icemen.