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Chairman Don Levin sees “no scenario at all” where Wolves, Golden Knights stay together after season

“The Chicago Wolves will be here next season,” Levin told the Sun-Times before Saturday’s game. “But I don’t know who we’ll be affiliated with.”

The Wolves, who won the 2019 Western Conference title last season, appear headed for a split from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

The Wolves will be around next season, but they likely won’t be affiliated with the Vegas Golden Knights.

“The Chicago Wolves will be here next season,” chairman Don Levin told the Sun-Times before the Wolves beat the Manitoba Moose 5-2 on Saturday. “But I don’t know who we’ll be affiliated with.”

Levin said there is “no scenario at all” where the Wolves are affiliated with the Golden Knights next season. During his state of the league news conference Monday, AHL president David Andrews said Vegas has interest in buying a team. Reports from Nevada said the Golden Knights are hoping to bring one to the desert as soon as next season.

That team, though, will not be the Wolves. Asked whether the Wolves are for sale, Levin said, “Anything’s for sale at a price, but there’s no price that’s been ever discussed with me that I would even consider.

“I think Vegas has asked every independent team if they wanted to sell. I don’t know if they’ve found anybody or not, but it’s certainly not me.”

The Golden Knights declined to comment Saturday.

Regardless of what happens with Vegas’ efforts to buy a team, the relationship with the Wolves appears to be nearing its conclusion.

When the teams disclosed their affiliation agreement in May 2017, it was announced as a five-year pact through 2021-22. But it appears it will end after three seasons, and Andrews’ comments didn’t exactly take Levin by surprise.

“We knew that before,” Levin said. “We knew that. Our affiliation is over at the end of the year.”

Levin said something will be done regarding a new affiliation by the spring.

Once their relationship with Vegas ends and they find a new partner, it will be the Wolves’ fifth since 2010. In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and joined with the St. John’s IceCaps instead of the Wolves. The Wolves then partnered with Vancouver from 2011 to ’13 and St. Louis from 2013 to ’17.

Levin did not disclose who the Wolves have had discussions with, but the resolution likely means the roster will look totally different when they officially split with Vegas.

For Vegas, it makes sense to want an affiliate closer to Nevada. Las Vegas and Rosemont are separated by 1,744 miles, the second-longest distance between a parent club and an AHL affiliate (Vancouver and Utica are 2,934 apart). In just three seasons, the Golden Knights have built a rabid fan base, one that could support a minor-league team to go with the NHL product.

“We have had discussions with American Hockey League representatives regarding the possibility of securing an AHL club on an ongoing basis since our team’s inception,” the Golden Knights said Monday in a statement. “While we remain very interested in the opportunity, specific details related to an acquisition or the potential location of the acquired team are yet to be determined.”

During their first two seasons with Vegas, the Wolves won a pair of Central Division titles. They won the 2019 Western Conference title before losing in the Calder Cup Finals to the Charlotte Checkers.