Albany River Rats
|Albany River Rats|
|City||Albany, New York|
|League||American Hockey League|
|Home arena||Times Union Center|
Red, black, white
|Affiliates||Carolina Hurricanes (2006–2010)
Colorado Avalanche (2006–2007)
New Jersey Devils (1993–2006)
|1990–1993||Capital District Islanders|
|1993–2010||Albany River Rats|
|Regular season titles||2 1994–95, 1995–96|
|Division Championships||4 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98|
|Calder Cups||1 1994–95|
Founding to 2010
The team was founded as the Capital District Islanders (playing at Houston Field House on campus at RPI located across the Hudson River in Troy, New York) in 1990. They changed their name in 1993 when the New Jersey Devils sold their old affiliate the Utica Devils to become linked with this team.
In 1998, Walter Robb purchased the franchise from original owner Al Lawrence, allowing the franchise to remain in Albany. Garen Szablewski has served as CEO and president of the River Rats for 15 years, since 1994.
The Rats' glory days came in the mid- to late-1990s making seven consecutive playoff appearances, winning two division titles, and taking home the AHL's Calder Cup in 1995. Also in 1995, their parent club, the New Jersey Devils, won the Stanley Cup.
However, wins declined after the 1997–98 season, the last time Albany won a playoff series. The River Rats finished last in each of the six seasons between 2000–01 and 2005–06. A new affiliation with the Carolina Hurricanes beginning in the 2006–07 season brought hope of a return to AHL glory not seen in Albany since the late '90s.
On March 22, 2006, the Devils announced that they were cutting ties with the River Rats after the 2005–06 AHL season, as the parent club announced the purchase of the Lowell Lock Monsters. Despite the move, the River Rats were not relocated. In April 2006, The Carolina Hurricanes signed a one-year agreement (with the option to renew for two additional) with the River Rats to be their farm affiliate. Later on, Carolina was joined by the Colorado Avalanche in a one-year partnership agreement. On February 22, 2007, the Carolina Hurricanes and Albany River Rats announced that their affiliation agreement had been extended through the 2008–09 season.
On April 24, 2008, the River Rats lost 3–2 to the Philadelphia Phantoms in the longest game played in AHL history. The Phantoms' Ryan Potulny scored 2:58 into the fifth overtime. Albany gave up 101 shots on goal, and goaltender Michael Leighton made 98 saves.
Move to Charlotte
On January 22, 2010, a report out of Raleigh, North Carolina, that the franchise was to be sold and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. The new franchise was to be the new affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes with a team name of the Charlotte Checkers.
On February 10, 2010 the River Rats web site announced that the sale of the River Rats was complete, and that they would be moving to Charlotte at the conclusion of the 2009-10 AHL Season. "Capital District Sports, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, the Albany River Rats, has sold its American Hockey League franchise to MAK Hockey, LLC located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The sale will not affect the remainder of the 2009-10 season, with regular season games concluding on April 10, 2010 followed by the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs."  However after the conclusion of the 2010 season the team would relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina, and be known as the Checkers and play in the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Shortly following the sale of the franchise, officials in Albany, as well as AHL President Dave Andrews, told media outlets that the city would likely have a team for the 2010-2011 season and might even keep the River Rats title and logo, which remained the property of former owner Walter Robb. It was reported in the Albany Times Union and the Portland Press Herald on March 15 that talks between the Times Union Center and the Portland Pirates to relocate the Pirates had broken off. Both newspapers reported that Times Union Center GM Bob Belber had said that it would go in a new direction and try to sign a deal with the Lowell Devils and bring back the Devils affiliaton to Albany. On the 6th of June, the New Jersey Devils announced the relocation of the Lowell Devils to Albany, to begin play in the AHL in the 2010-2011 season as the Albany Devils.
- This market was previously served by: Albany Choppers of the IHL (1990–91)
- The franchise was replaced by: Albany Devils of the AHL, a relocation of the Lowell Devils (2010–present)
- The franchise was later known as: Charlotte Checkers
2009 bus crash
On February 19, 2009, five people were seriously injured when a bus carrying the team home from a game in Lowell struck a guard rail and rolled on its side on Interstate 90 in Becket, Massachusetts. Nicolas Blanchard, Joe Jensen, Jonathan Paiement, Casey Borer, and the River Rats radio color commentator John Hennessy were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with "serious" injuries.
|1996–97||80||38||28||9||5||—||90||269||231||3rd, Empire State|
|1997–98||80||43||20||11||6||—||103||290||223||1st, Empire State|
|1998–99||80||46||26||6||2||—||100||275||230||2nd, Empire State|
|1999–00||80||30||40||7||3||—||70||225||250||4th, Empire State|
|Season||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||Finals|
|1993–94||L, 1-4, POR||—||—||—|
|1994–95||W, 4-0, ADK||W, 4-2, PRO||--||W, 4-0, FRE|
|1995–96||L, 1-3, COR||—||—||—|
|1996–97||W, 3-1, ADK||W, 4-3, ROC||L, 1-4, HAM||—|
|1997–98||W, 3-0, ADK||W, 4-0, HAM||L, 2-4, PHI||—|
|1998–99||L, 3-2, HAM||—||—||—|
|1999–00||L, 3-2, ROC||—||—||—|
|2000–01||Out of playoffs|
|2001–02||Out of playoffs|
|2002–03||Out of playoffs|
|2003–04||Out of playoffs|
|2004–05||Out of playoffs|
|2005–06||Out of playoffs|
|2006–07||L, 1-4, HER||—||—||—|
|2007–08||L, 3-4 PHI||—||—||—|
|2008–09||Out of playoffs|
|2009–10||W, 4-0 WBS||L, 0-4 HER||—||—|
- Goals: 46 Jeff Williams (1998–99)
- Assists: 63 Keith Aucoin (2006–07)
- Points: 99 Keith Aucoin (2006–07)
- Penalty Minutes: 348 Matt Ruchty (1994–95)
- GAA: 2.10 Michael Leighton (2007–08)
- SV%: .931 Michael Leighton (2007–08)
- Career goals: 155 Steve Brule
- Career assists: 214 Steve Brule
- Career points: 369 Steve Brule
- Career penalty minutes: 1197 Rob Skrlac
- Career goaltending wins: 77 Peter Sidorkiewicz
- Career shutouts: 8 Peter Sidorkiewicz
- Career games: 423 Jiri Bicek
- "What's next for the River Rats?". Capital News 9. 2006-03-22. Retrieved 2006-03-23.
- "River Rats announce new affiliation, lease". theahl.com. 2006-04-04. Archived from the original on 2006-11-12. Retrieved 2006-04-17.
- "River Rats to remain Carolina’s top farm club through 2008-09". Carolina Hurricanes. 2007-02-22. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- "Capital District Sports announces River Rats sale". Albany River Rats. 2010-02-10. Archived from the original on 21 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-10.[dead link]
- "Devils shift AHL operations to Albany". New Jersey Devils. 2010-06-06. Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- The Canadian Press (2009-02-19). "Three seriously injured as bus carrying AHL team crashes". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-19.