The Tampa Bay Lightning have partnered with the Florida Panthers to offer use of American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse Crunch for the 2020-21 season, Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois and Panthers General Manager Bill Zito jointly announced today.
Info on our AHL set up for the 2020-21 season ⬇️ https://t.co/gRyi05ETmP
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) January 6, 2021
As part of the partnership, the Panthers will have the ability to assign players to the Crunch to train, practice and play. Florida’s AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers opted out of the 2020-21 season following safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crunch coaching and support staff will remain intact, led by Head Coach Ben Groulx.
“From the Tampa Bay Lightning perspective, the 2020-21 AHL season is about providing a safe and steady place for our players to train, practice and play some games,” BriseBois said. “The opportunity to partner with our cross-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, for what will be a most unusual season will allow the Crunch to ice a more competitive team to the benefit of our fans and our players. We look forward to working with Bill Zito and his staff.”
“We are excited and honored to work with our neighbors, the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Syracuse Crunch organization. It is a unique chance to work in tandem with our cross-state rivals in a collaborative effort to provide the necessary environment for our prospects to train and compete in the 2020-21 AHL season,” Zito said. “With safety at the forefront, this arrangement also allows our players to continue their development uninterrupted. The fact that our two competing franchises have decided to work together for the collective good is evidence of the underlying goodwill and community that truly exists in our sport and is a testimony to the character of Julien BriseBois and his staff. This type of cooperation is exciting for the future of hockey in Florida.”
“Our priority during the 2020-21 season is to give our players the opportunity to develop in a safe and competitive atmosphere,” Crunch General Manager Stacy Roest said. “We look forward to working with the Florida Panthers organization and are pleased to offer their prospects a place to play in Syracuse under this unique circumstance. We believe this partnership will benefit both our players and fans.”
“We are extremely excited to be playing in the abbreviated AHL season,” said Crunch Owner Howard Dolgon. “As always, we have complete confidence in our great partners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, that even under these difficult circumstances, we will provide a quality product, which our fans and all of our partners can continue to be proud of. Nothing is more important than keeping our fans and players safe while developing young prospects for the Lightning, and this season, the Florida Panthers.”