|League:||American Hockey League|
|Home Arena:||Cumberland County Civic Center|
|Colors:||Black, red, silver, white|
|General Manager:||Darcy Regier|
|Head Coach:||Kevin Dineen|
|Media:||Portland Press Herald|
|Affiliates:||Florida Panthers (NHL)|
|Division Championships:||1 (2005–06)|
|Conference Championships:||1 (1995–96)|
|Calder Cups:||1 (1993–94)|
The Portland Pirates were a minor professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League, serving as the top farm team for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. They play in Portland, Maine, at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The franchise was previously known as the Baltimore Skipjacks from 1982 to 1993.
The Portland Pirates were founded in 1993–94 as an affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The team was previously known as the Baltimore Skipjacks, who relocated to Maine. The Pirates replaced the void made by the Maine Mariners who departed to become the Providence Bruins a year earlier. The Capitals affiliation ended after 12 seasons in 2005.
The Pirates first season proved to be their most successful one to date, as they won the Calder Cup with a 43–27–10 record. Their next season they had 104 points, but were upset in the 1st round of the playoffs. In the 1995–96 season, they again reached the Calder Cup Finals, despite a subpar record of 32–34–10, but lost to the Rochester Americans.
Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride for the Pirates. Despite an excellent 100 point season, they were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in 1999–00.
In the 2006 AHL playoffs, the Pirates went for a thrilling playoff run, only to be defeated by the eventual Calder Cup-winning Hershey Bears in a dramatic seven-game series.
In 2005 the Pirates announced a five year lease extension at the Cumberland County Civic Center, ending speculation that the team might relocate. The Pirates also signed a three year affiliation agreement with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2005, but the Ducks announced on June 3, 2008, that they were affiliating with the Iowa Stars instead of renewing the agreement.
The Sabres era
On June 10, 2008, the Pirates and the Buffalo Sabres announced that they had reached a new affiliation agreement, ending several months of speculation.
On August 5, 2008, the team announced that Kevin Dineen has been retained as head coach.
On February 10, 2009, the team played in Buffalo at HSBC Arena for the first time before a crowd of 11,144. The Pirates lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Albany River Rats. The Sabres faithful were pleased with the aggressive play and numerous fights during the game. It has been announced that the Pirates will play in Buffalo twice in 2009-10. The first game will be played on November 12 and the second will be March 7; both games will be against the Rochester Americans (the Sabres' previous AHL affiliate).
On March 17, 2010, the Pirates signed a 2-year lease extension with the Civic Center. Reports indicate that as part of the deal, no more games will be played in Buffalo. In an article on June 23, 2010 from WCSH-TV (NBC) Portland, Maine developer Jason Synder wants to build 60+ million dollar arena as part of a 300 million dollar retail/commercial development project on 2 sites he owns near the Maine Turnpike one site is located in Portland and the other in Westbrook. The arena would seat 8,000 the Portland Pirates hockey team (AHL) would be the primary tenant the developer hopes the Maine Red Claws Pro Basketball team (NBA D-LEAGUE) would eventually play their games at the new arena and Mr. Synder hopes the arena would attract big name concert acts as well. He is to meet with Cumberland County officials on financing options.
In May 2011, the Sabres had indicated a willingness to break from its affiliation agreement with the Pirates and reaffiliate with the Rochester Americans. The Pirates had to sign off on the agreement, since their agreement with the Sabres ran through 2014. On June 24, 2011 the American Hockey League approved the sale of the Rochester Americans, it also included the buyout of the affiliaton contract with the Portland Pirates.
On June 27, 2011 the Phoenix Coyotes announced that the franchise had entered into a five-year player development contract with the Pirates. WMTW-TV mentioned that during the announcement of the Coyotes being the Pirates affiliate that 2 of the 4 teams that were negotiating with the Pirates wanted the Pirates to change the team name and logo, but the Pirates agreed to the deal with Phoenix in order to keep their name and logo and because the Coyotes "wanted it the most".
During the 2012-13 Season, the Pirates played 6 games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine in preparation of renovations at the Cross Insruance Arena. On April 17, 2013, the Pirates and Cumberland County announced a 5-year lease, with the option for another 5 years, to stay at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, though that has been thrown into question due to a dispute over revenue from food sales (see lease dispute section below). Due to the dispute, the Pirates played their entire home schedule in Lewiston.
The Pirates were forced to play their final game of the 2013-14 season at their 400-seat practice facility in Saco, due to the Colisée being double booked with the game and a circus. The Pirates promised refunds to those who had bought tickets for the game in Lewiston, and stated that all ticket proceeds from the Saco game would go to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland. They announced on 5/7/2014 a 1-year extension of the affiliation agreement, also a small increase in ticket prices as part of the changes the team is doing to rebuild confidence with the community. Ron Cain the new majority owner is not concerned about getting a new affiliate in 2015 with the Coyotes likely to move their affiliate closer to Glendale, due to the popularity of the Portland market and the renovated arena.
On March 18, 2015, the Pirates announced an affiliation agreement with the Florida Panthers to begin in the 2015–16 season and that Eric Joyce, the general manager of Florida's previous AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, would take over the same position in Portland.
Relocation to Springfield; new ECHL team to Portland
On May 4, 2016 shortly after the Springfield Falcons were sold to the Arizona Coyotes and the Falcons were announced as moving to Tucson, Arizona, the Pirates organization was reported to be moving to Springfield, Massachusetts to replace the Falcons in the MassMutual Center. Later the team announced they were in the process of being sold and signed a letter of intent to relocate to Springfield. On May 11th reports started to surface that the soon to be former owner of the AHL team was going to bring an ECHL team to Portland with the same name for the 2017-18 season. The reports did not indicate if it would be an expansion team or a relocated team. On May 23, 2016 the AHL announced that the Board of Governors had unanimously approved the sale and relocation of the franchise to Springfield Hockey, LLC. Reports are now indicating that it would most likely be a relocated team.
The market was previously home to:
- Maine Mariners (1977–1992)
|1996–97||80||37||26||10||7||—||91||279||264||3rd, New England|
|1999–00||80||46||23||10||1||—||103||256||202||2nd, New England|
|2000–01||80||34||40||4||2||—||74||250||280||5th, New England|
|Season||Prelim||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||Finals|
|1993–94||—||W, 4–1, ALB||W, 4–2, ADIR||bye||W, 4–2, MONC|
|1994–95||—||L, 3–4, PROV||—||—||—|
|1995–96||—||W, 3–1, WOR||W, 4–2, SPR||W, 4–3, SJNB||L, 3–4, ROCH|
|1996–97||—||L, 2–3, SPR||—||—||—|
|1997–98||—||W, 3–1, FRED||L, 2–4, SJNB||—||—|
|1998–99||Out of playoffs.|
|1999–00||—||L, 1–3, WOR||—||—||—|
|2000–01||—||L, 0–3, SJNB||—||—||—|
|2001–02||Out of playoffs.|
|2002–03||L, 1–2, MTB||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||W, 2–0, PROV||L, 1–4, HART||—||—||—|
|2004–05||Out of playoffs.|
|2005–06||—||W, 4–2, PROV||W, 4–2, HART||L, 3–4, HER||—|
|2006–07||Out of playoffs.|
|2007–08||—||W, 4–1, HART||W, 4–2, PROV||L, 3–4, WBS||—|
|2008–09||—||L, 1–4, PROV||—||—||—|
|2009–10||—||L, 0–4, MAN||—||—||—|
|2011||W, 4–2, CTW||L, 2-4, BNG||—||—||—|
|2012||Out of playoffs|
|2013||L, 0–3, SYR||—||—||—||—|
|2014||Out of playoffs|
|2015||L, 2–3, MCH||—||—||—||—|
|2016||L, 2–3, HER||—||—||—||—|
- Goals: 41 Michel Picard (1993–94)
- Assists: 73 Jeff Nelson (1993–94)
- Points: 107 Jeff Nelson (1993–94)
- Points (By a Defenseman): 51 Marc-Andre Gragnani (2008-09)
- Penalty minutes: 355 Mark Major (1997–98)
- GAA: 1.99 Maxime Ouellet (2003–04)
- SV%: .930 Maxime Ouellet (2003–04)
- Career goals: 147 Kent Hulst
- Career assists: 224 Andrew Brunette
- Career points: 360 Kent Hulst
- Career penalty minutes: 797 Kevin Kaminski
- Career goaltending wins: 79 Martin Brochu
- Career shutouts: 17 Maxime Ouellet
- Career games: 473 Kent Hulst
Pirates Hall of Fame
Officially only #50 has been retired by the Portland Pirates. However a banner still hangs in the rafters in tribute to the 5 Maine Mariners who had their number retired before moving to Providence.
37 Olaf Kolzig (1993-96) Inducted 1999
19 Andrew Brunette (1993-98) Inducted 1999
34 Byron Dafoe (1993-95) Inducted 1999
32 'Killer'Kevin Kaminski (1993-95,97-98) Inducted 2000
3 Steve Poapst (1993-2000) Inducted 2001
10 Kent Hulst (1993-96) Inducted 2002
30 Martin Brochu (1996-2000) Inducted 2003
23 Ryan Mulhern (1995-98,99-2000) Inducted 2004
Head Coach Barry Trotz (1993-97) Inducted 2005
44 Todd Nelson (1993-95) Inducted 2006
31 Jim Carey (1994-96) Inducted 2007
Owner #50 Tom Ebright (1993-97) Inducted 2008
26 Chris Jensen (1993-95) Inducted 2010
AHL awards and trophies
|Sabres||Franchise • Expansion Draft • Players • Coaches • GMs • Seasons • Broadcasters • Records • Draft Picks|
|Culture/Lore||"The French Connection" • Ted Darling • Rick Jeanneret • The Fog Game • No Goal • 2008 NHL Winter Classic • 2011 NHL Premiere • Taro Tsujimoto|
|Arenas||Buffalo Memorial Auditorium • KeyBank Center|
|Affiliates||Rochester Americans (AHL) • Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)|
|Owners||S. Knox and N. Knox • Rigas • Golisano and Quinn • Pegula|
|Other||Radio Network • Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team • Buffalo Jr. Sabres|