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BY DON SCOTT

The Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL) have extended their affiliation agreement through the 2023-24 season, Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer and Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced Friday.

“The Hershey Bears are thrilled to continue our partnership with one of the NHL’s elite franchises,” said Helmer. “Together, the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals have established a winning culture that goes hand-in-hand with organizational development at both the AHL and NHL levels. The Bears and Capitals have experienced success and championships during this long-standing affiliation, and we look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.”

The Bears and Capitals have been affiliated since 2005, with the Chocolate and White skating in its 15th season as Washington’s AHL affiliate during the 2019-20 campaign. Hershey has qualified for the playoffs 12 times during that tenure and was on its way to a 13th appearance prior to the cancellation of the 2019-20 season.

As Washington’s affiliate, Hershey has won three Calder Cups, starting the partnership with a championship in 2006, and winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.  Since the two clubs affiliated in 2005, Hershey has reached the Calder Cup Finals in five of the 15 seasons, most recently in 2015-16. No AHL franchise has reached the finals more times in that span.  

“We have enjoyed our long-lasting partnership with the Hershey Bears and are excited to extend our affiliation,” MacLellan said. “Hershey has a tremendous history within the American Hockey League. They are well-run and a first-class organization. We believe the franchise’s winning culture provides our prospects with the best opportunity to develop.”

This season, 14 former or current Bears played for Washington: Travis Boyd, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Martin Fehervary, Braden Holtby, Tyler Lewington, Beck Malenstyn, Dmitry Orlov, Michael Sgarbossa, Ilya Samsonov, Jonas Siegenthaler, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson.

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