PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The only significant change in the Portland Pirates return to the Cumberland County Civic Center will be stability as they team has extended their NHL affiliation agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes for one more year and head coach Ray Edwards was named the teams new general manager as well.
"It's getting the right dance partner with the right coaching staff, the right players, the right commitment to putting a winning product on the ice as well as putting a developmental product on the ice," said managing partner and CEO Ron Cain.
The current affiliation agreement is good through the 2014-15 season, but could be extended beyond that. Both Phoenix and Portland are waiting to see what comes of a possible realignment in the American Hockey League with the forming of a Pacific Division where each NHL club in the West would opt for an AHL team closer to the region. In that case, the Pirates would have to find an affiliation with another NHL team.
The ability to compete for a Calder Cup championship will also play a role in the Pirates decision to either remain with Phoenix, who will change their name to Arizona this offseason. Coming off a season in which Portland finished last in the AHL standings, Cain recognizes the importance of producing a winner as opposed to just putting out a bunch of players to develop for their NHL parent club.
"I want the fans to be as excited about what's going on the ice here as they may be in Phoenix," he said.
Edwards' appointment as the team's general manager comes on the heels of former Pirates GM and Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving being hired by the Calgary Flames as their new GM.
"I spent some time out in Phoenix meeting with [Coyotes GM] Don [Maloney] and the guys out there and I just got a call a couple days ago that this is the direction they wanted to go in, so I'm excited about it," Edwards said.
The dual role of head coach and GM is a familiar one to Edwards. He was the head coach/GM for the San Angelo Saints of the Central Hockey League, a tier below the AHL, from 2003-05.
"Someone asked me the other day, am I stressed out? I'm not. I'm used to doing that stuff. I did it at the Double A level, which is obviously a different level, but building a team is building a team," he said.
Edwards said he expects most of the Pirates from 2013-14 to return next season and placed a priority for his staff and players to put that disastrous campaign, in which they closed the season with the 10-game losing streak and the league's worst record, in the rearview.
"I think we've learned a ton, but it doesn't do anybody any good to keep rehashing the last year and I think we're all really looking forward to just moving past it," he said.
Edwards' staff will only have one change. The team is still without a goalie coach after Mike Menard was fired in February after he was charged with solicitation of a child and sexual misconduct with a child under 14.