For 15 years, the Norfolk Admirals have been the hockey team for Hampton Roads. After a successful tenure as an ECHL city, the American League decided to come in. Residents of the Seven Cities got to see a franchise that went through three different NHL affiliations, several players that graduated to the pros, a record-setting win streak, and a Calder Cup championship. Not close enough to I-95 and not close enough to an NHL team, the AHL franchise is gone thanks to geography.
Tonight marks the last game in Norfolk’s AHL tenure. It is the 75th game in a miserable season, another bittersweet marker. Hockey still remains next season, back in ECHL form. New rivalries will emerge, new players will come in, results have yet to be determined. That’s next season.
Norfolk leaves the AHL on a host of others’ terms, in quite a rude fashion. Perhaps it was a when not if proposition. Jim Hodges’ article in today’s Virginian-Pilot makes it clear: if the ECHL was about hockey in the community, the AHL is about the hockey business. Moving is just business.
Tonight? It’s just hockey.