On Tuesday, the Chicago Wolves announced they will partner with the Nashville Predators to serve as an AHL affiliate during the 2021 season. The Wolves already had a three-year deal to serve as the AHL affiliate for the Carolina Hurricanes that began on September 10th, 2020.
The Nashville deal will only be for this season due to Nashville’s regular AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, deciding not to play this year due to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 restrictions and other financial concerns.
There has been no confirmation on which Admirals players will play for the Wolves, but there is confirmation that the Predators will loan players.
This split affiliation shapes up to be extremely interesting as the Predators and Hurricanes both reside in the NHL’s new-look Central Division same division and will face off eight times this year. It opens the door for a possibility of two Wolves teammates playing against each other in the NHL if they both get called up.
While the Blackhawks have been the predominant hockey presence in town ever since Rocky Wirtz started his tenure as owner, the Wolves have maintained a strong presence in Chicago’s hockey culture. Prior to the Blackhawks’ renaissance, the Wolves were, at times, the more attended hockey attraction in town.
Their new affiliation with the Predators affiliate surely elicits mixed emotions from Chicago fans. While the Predators are the Blackhawks’ arch-rival, the Wolves are still the closest AHL team to the city with their Rosemont location. Most Chicagoans would have to drive just minutes to the Wolves home, the Allstate Arena, while heading to Rockford to catch a game of the Blackhawks’ affiliate, the IceHogs, is a considerably longer trek.
The Wolves, founded in 1994, initially served as the Atlanta Thrashers’ NHL affiliate until 2011 when the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. After that, the Wolves fed into the Vancouver Canucks (2011-13), St. Louis Blues (2013-2017), Vegas Golden Knights (2017-2020), and Carolina Hurricanes (2020-present day).