The Vancouver Canucks farm team will not be coming to the Abbotsford Centre, after the club announced on Friday it will be extending its partnership with Utica. (Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)

Vancouver Canucks extend affiliate deal with Utica Comets

Possibility of team arriving in Abbotsford shot down by new partnership

Any notions of the Vancouver Canucks farm team landing in Abbotsford anytime soon ended on Saturday, as the club announced the extension of its partnership with the Utica Comets.

The Comets have been the Canucks top affiliate since 2013-14, and this deal could last as long as six years.

There is an out clause option after two years.

Back in October, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini spoke on Sportsnet 650 about the team potentially coming to Abbotsford, which re-ignited discussion about the possibility of a move.

The chatter also became a minor election issue, with mayoral hopeful Eric Nyvall criticizing incumbent Henry Braun for not doing enough to bring the team here.

Nyvall proposed that the city of Abbotsford re-engage negotiations with the Canucks, and if the city could get a memorandum of understanding, start a season ticket drive to prove the demand in the market.

Back in May, Braun stated during a question and answer period at his Mayor’s Breakfast event that he has tried to bring a professional hockey team to the Abbotsford Centre, but didn’t want to cost local taxpayers any money in the process.

During the event, he noted that while some suggested moving the Comets to California, others asked “Why not Abbotsford?”

“I agree with sentiment,” he said. “I don’t know why [not].”

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said the partnership with Utica has worked well for his team.

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with Utica,” he stated in a press release. “The Comets share our organization’s level of commitment and philosophy in player development, providing a strong environment for growth. We believe the culture in Utica, combined with the great fan support and atmosphere at games, will continue to be beneficial for the players in our system.”

Comets president Rob Esche agreed.

“We couldn’t be happier to extend and grow our well-established partnership with the Vancouver Canucks,” said Rob Esche, President, Utica Comets. “It has been an honour to play a small part in the future of the Canucks organization, and we look forward to continuing to establish a culture and atmosphere here in Utica that aligns with the goals and values in Vancouver.”

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