On June 21, 2012 the Ducks officially announced that they entered a multi-year agreement with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. Norfolk will serve as the top development team for the Ducks and their AHL prospects. Many Ducks fans may wonder about the city and what the Admirals have to offer the Ducks’ prospects.
AHL hockey has been thriving in Norfolk since coming into the league as an expansion team in 2000. From 2000 until 2007, the Admirals were affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks. Following the 2006-2007 season, the Admirals found affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning left the Admirals organization after their AHL prospects won the Calder Cup last season. One of the main reasons Tampa Bay left Norfolk is because of the travel for away games.
If you look at a map of the cities in the AHL, you will find that the closest opponent is the Charlotte Checkers who play in the Western Conference, as they are 5 hours and 53 minutes away. The second closest opponent is the Hershey Bears who are 5 hours and 57 minutes away. With the majority of the opponents north of the Mason Dixon Line, the Admirals leave days in advance aboard a state of the art sleeper bus.
When on the road, the Admirals usually play 3 games in 3 days since the teams up north are so close to one another. For example, the last 3 away games during the regular season were in the State of New York. Friday the team played in Albany,
Saturday’s game was in Binghamton, which is 2 hours from Albany, and Sunday’s game was in Glens Falls, which is roughly 3 hours from Binghamton.
On the other hand when teams come to Norfolk, they play a weekend series, which includes games on both Friday and Saturday nights. This can be great from a fan’s standpoint because sometimes bad blood is still brewing from the previous night, which can make the game really exciting. The Admirals do have a fair share of weekday games during the season, some of them fall on Tuesday or Wednesday at home, but the bulk of the games are on Friday or Saturday.
The Admirals play their home games at the Norfolk Scope in downtown Norfolk. The Admirals’ Community Relations Director does a great job of getting the prospects involved in the community. They go to schools, children’s hospitals and the local area military bases. Norfolk is a huge military town; it stations one of the biggest naval bases in the world, Naval Station Norfolk.
When players have down time alot of guys go to MacArthur Mall, which is a 3-story mall that has its own movie theater inside of it. It also includes many restaurants and shops. One of the things that past players enjoyed is the beach. Norfolk is less than a 30-minute drive to the oceanfront at Virginia Beach. Many prospects enjoyed spending time cruising the boardwalk on a mild day is January. There are even select players who choose to live on oceanfront property during the hockey season; however; a lot of the team will stay in apartments that are less than a block away from the rink.
Yes the Admirals have one of the worst travel schedules in the AHL, but if you look at the Admirals’ organization as a whole the pros out weigh the cons. Ask any pervious Admiral about Norfolk and I’m sure they will tell you that the fans are a class act along with the city and the Admirals’ organization. If any Duck fan has the chance to make the trek to Norfolk to see the Baby Ducks play, he or she won’t regret it. There is so much to take in and see it is unreal.
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