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Byline: Rachel Lenzi
July 03--PORTLAND -- This year wasn't like other years for the Portland Pirates.
When it came to finding a new National Hockey League parent club, the Pirates' ownership didn't feel forced into entering an agreement with one team. They weren't locked out by another parent club. They didn't have to settle on a deal solely on the basis of availability, that only one parent team was available, or that the Pirates were the last American Hockey League team available.
Instead, the Pirates had options -- four of them, in fact, before announcing June 27 they had entered a five-year affiliation agreement with the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.
"We didn't create a bidding war," Pirates CEO Brian Petrovek said. "Due diligence gave us so many options. It became fun, interesting and put us in a no-lose situation."
In the last week, four NHL teams have announced new affiliations with four AHL teams -- Phoenix with the Portland Pirates, Buffalo with the Rochester Americans, Vancouver with the Chicago Wolves and Florida with the San Antonio Rampage.
Unlike the stability of Major League Baseball's minor-league system, changes in …