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Saffan: Islanders still committed to Bridgeport

Updated 12:46 am, Sunday, February 3, 2013
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BRIDGEPORT -- Harbor Yard may have a Connecticut Rangers domain name reserved. It doesn't appear to have the Rangers.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers president Howard Saffan reiterated a denial he gave to the Hartford Courant on Saturday when asked if the Rangers planned to move their top prospects to Bridgeport.

"We get asked constantly about the Rangers going to Bridgeport," Saffan said. "The New York Islanders are committed to Bridgeport for the next eight years."

Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, operated by the same people who run the Sound Tigers, took over Webster Bank Arena management in 2011. That arrangement commits the Sound Tigers to Bridgeport until at least 2021.

The Rangers have had their farm team in Hartford since 1997. Their lease at the XL Center is up at the end of this season, and it's still undecided who'll operate that venue past this summer.

As the Courant noted, Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment registered the Internet domains ctrangers.com and connecticutrangers.com last month.

Rangers-to-Bridgeport rumors have floated about as long as the Sound Tigers have been here, 12 years with the Islanders.

"This is a perfect location for us," Saffan said. "It's one hour away from Nassau Coliseum."

It's easy to market to Islanders fans, Saffan said, who can get on the ferry from Suffolk County. Left unsaid: It could be easier to market to Rangers fans in New York and even throughout Fairfield County.

"The most important thing to remember is we have a wonderful relationship with the Whale," Saffan said. "We have a storied rivalry. We believe having two teams in Connecticut is great for Connecticut and great for the two organizations."

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.connpost.com/fornabaio

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