Just getting back from a 2 day trip to NE Pennsylvania and Dutchess County for some baseball…while I was in PA I got the news about the Devils ECHL franchise in Trenton suspending operations for next season. As if that news didn’t come out of left field, how the announcement came out was a little, shall we say, interesting. First hint came from the Bergen Record blog Fire and Ice (link here), then later in the day came the official announcement from the Devils themselves, which sounded eerily like the Fire and Ice story. Apparently somebody was just a little bitter about suddenly losing a job so instead of coming up with something nice they copied and pasted? You have to feel for Trenton fans (if there’s any left) about this one…committing to tickets for next year then…surprise! No team to support.
Trenton’s hockey history can be traced back to 1999, when they entered the ECHL as the Trenton Titans. They won the league’s Kelly Cup in 2004-05. Amid some struggling attendance figures, in 2007 New Jersey bought the franchise (after buying the Lowell Lock Monsters the previous year and renaming them the Lowell Devils…we all know how well that worked out) and re-branded them as the Trenton Devils, basically killing off most of the fanbase in an area considered to be Flyers territory. Attendance dwindled more every season, going from 3,515 in 2006-07 to a league worst 2,390 this past season. Their record wasn’t much to write home about either, a 27-37-2-6 mark, second worst in the 19 team league.
For a really good perspective on how the T-Devils basically ceased to exist, check out Mike Ashmore’s blog post from Inside the Trenton Devils.
So of course the next question here is, do Albany fans have to worry that this could happen here too? At first glance, one wouldn’t think so, there’s a 5 year contract in place with the arena and the team spearheaded all the newest additions to the Times Union Center (ribbon lighting, new scoreboard, revamped locker room/weight room). But Trenton’s lease with their home arena, the Sun National Bank Center, actually was through the 2018-19 season. This may also start up the Devils moving to New Jersey rumors again, like with last season’s 4 “home” games in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall spurning talk that after the 5 years are up the AHL franchise would be moved, which were shot down. But if I were a Albany hockey fan, I’d try my hardest (good or bad record) to show support for the team we have here. Because in the business of minor league sports, you just never know what can happen.