Better Know An Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche

AHL: Colorado Eagles (36-27-4-1, 4th in Pacific, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: In their first year of the AHL, the Eagles will probably stick around as the primary affiliate for a while, especially since– you know– they’re in the same state as their parent club. Previous to the Eagles, the Avalanche had their top prospects with the San Antonio Rampage, Lake Erie Monsters, Albany River Rats, Lowell Lock Monsters, Hershey Bears, and the Cornwall Aces
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: With the number of signings and trades made, the Avs are deep as it is– that’s going to make it harder for someone like AJ Greer to crack the opening night roster, but will make him a candidate for the shuttle. Logan O’Connor will be a dark horse to be a shuttle player down the middle, but he could definitely use a lot more time in the AHL before getting too familiar with the Avalanche line-depth.

ECHL: Utah Grizzlies (37-26-4-5, 3rd in Mountain, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Grizzlies were another first-year affiliate for the Avalanche, though it’s only because the Eagles moved up to the AHL after being the Avs’ secondary affiliation for two seasons. The Avs split between the ECHL and CHL when the latter was an option. Prior to the Eagles, the Fort Wayne Komets were the secondary affiliates, with the Denver Cutthroats, Tulsa Oilers, Charlotte Checkers, Johnstown Chiefs, Arizona Sundogs and San Diego Gulls played the role of starting point for future Avs.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: A couple of graduates from the ECHL Grizzlies include Mikko Koskinen, Aaron Dell, Micheal Haley– all who started their careers there, while the likes of Brandon Yip and Richard Jackman ended their North American careers there.

Better Know An Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

AHL: Rockford IceHogs (35-31-4-6, 7th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: Since 2007, the IceHogs have been serving their in-state parent as their primary affiliate, though the Blackhawks had a tendancy to use other leagues over the AHL for their primary affiliate. Aside from Rockford and previous to them, the Norfolk Admirals; the Hawks used teams in the IHL like the Indianapolis Ice and Saginaw Hawks, as well as teams in the CHL– including the Dallas Black Hawks and St. Louis Braves as their primary affiliates from the 1960s until 2000. They had spot AHL affiliations with the Portland Pirates (1998-99), Nova Scotia Oilers (1985-87), Springfield Indians (1982-84) and New Brunswick Hawks (1978-82). Before that, the Buffalo Bisons were their AHL affiliate from 1954 until 1966. With being an “Original Six” team, the Hawks had many amateur teams in the beginning, as well as teams from the WHL and USHL when they were pro leagues.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While a change of scenery could be a good thing, Alex Nylander may be on the shuttle plenty with his new squad, as he did get better in his second AHL season opposed to his first. Nylander will be in a fight with Dylan Sikura, who himself is in a make-or-break season– as he was a shuttler last season during the Hawks rough season of injury. Collin Delia is the obviously choice depending upon Corey Crawford’s health.

ECHL: Indy Fuel (35-32-2-3, 5th in Central, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: While the Fuel have been the secondary affiliate for the Blackhawks for five seasons, the length of their secondary with the Toledo Walleye (2009-2014), the times before that were very one-and-done for the Hawks and secondary affiliates. The Fresno Falcons, Greenville Grrrowl, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Roanoke Express, Jackson Bandits, and Hampton Roads Admirals were their all their secondary affiliates from 1999 until 2009.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: Delia has been the standout graduate of this young franchise, making his presence known with the Hawks last season, while the only other notable would be Justin Holl– who started his career in Indy before leaving the Hawks organization to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Better Know An Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes

AHL: Charlotte Checkers (51-17-7-1, 1st in Atlantic, Won Calder Cup)
TEAM LINEAGE: The defending Calder Cup Champions have been alongside their state-parent for the past decade, which makes sense for call-ups and to make the entire state familiar with the Hurricanes present and future. Prior to the Checkers being moved up to the AHL, the Canes had two affiliates with the best names in minor league hockey with the Albany River Rats and the Lowell Lock Monsters. From 1999 to 2001, the Canes actually went to the IHL for their primary affiliation with the Cincinnati Cyclones, when their previous AHL affiliate– the Beast of New Haven (and their gaudy logo)– were the team’s first affiliate from 1997 until 1999.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Newly signed Chase Priskie could very well make a big impact on the blueline in Charlotte that he could be back and from from the Queen City to the Triangle. Martin Necas spent some time in the big leagues last year and could see more frequency, should he continue on his solid campaign from last season. Alex Nedeljkovic is primed for another big year in the AHL after his tremendous season in 2018-19…that is if he doesn’t make the team outright from camp.

ECHL: Greenville Swamp Rabbits (25-41-3-3, 7th in South, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: This will be the first season with the Canes and Rabbits being together. This after a solid 18-year run with the Florida Everblades, who helped bring along the aforementioned Nedeljkovic, though many of those years they split affiliation with Tampa Bay. During the 2001-02 season, the Greensboro Generals were the secondary Canes affiliate, while the Richmond Renegades were the first secondary affiliate in the team’s history.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: There hasn’t been many graduates of the Swamp Rabbits/Road Warriors’ tribe when they were with the New York Rangers, though goalies like Cam Talbot and Brandon Halverson have played in Greenville prior to their appearances in the NHL.

Better Know An Affiliate: Calgary Flames

AHL: Stockton Heat (31-31-4-2, 6th in Pacific, Did Not Qualify for playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: One of the five teams that moved to California, previous to this– the Flames have had quite the history of affiliates in the previous 15 years. Stockton was moved from Adirondack, though that was only a one-year stop for the Flames and the Adirondack Flames. Before that, the only Western team in the AHL was the Abbotsford Heat from 2009 until 2014 and previous to that– Quad City, Omaha, and Lowell after the 10 seasons they spent in Saint John, New Brunswick.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: His prolific scoring in the AHL has Dillon Dube on the radar for the Flames, but with the depth they have in front of him; his better than point-per-game average may not be enough for him to crack the opening night roster, but it’ll be hard to ignore if he can keep that pace. With the injury to Juuso Valimaki, defense got a little more wide open. Should he adjust to the North American game, Alexander Yelesin could see some shuttle time by mid-season to help out with more depth in the show.

ECHL: Kansas City Mavericks (36-30-4-2, 4th in Mountain, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Mavericks and Flames marriage happened after the Flames moved on from the Adirondack Thunder– the replacement for the Stockton Thunder. After a long-term secondary affiliation with the Johnstown Chiefs, Las Vegas Wranglers, and Utah Grizzlies; Calgary bounced around the ECHL with Alaska Aces, Colorado Eagles, and Adirondack before hunkering down in Kansas City.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: The only two graduates to the NHL the ECHL Mavericks have turned out have been Tanner Fritz and Maxime Lagace. Fritz has been shuttled from Bridgeport to Long Island the past two seasons, but his first half-season with the Mavericks got him the permanent call-up to Bridgeport. Lagace got his start in Kansas City, as well, and has gone on to be the third goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights; including helping out when all the goalies went down during their inaugural season.

Better Know An Affiliate: Buffalo Sabres

AHL: Rochester Americans (46-23-5-2, 2nd in North, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: This is the second go-round for the Sabres and the Rochester Americans. The Sabres returned to Rochester in 2011, but prior to that– they spent 1979 until 2008 with the Americans in one of the longest affiliations in history. In between Rochester stints, the Sabres put their top young players in Portland with the Pirates, while before their first landing in Rochester, the Hershey Bears and Cincinnati Swords were the top affiliate of the Sabres, though the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the old WHL was the first Sabres affiliate in history.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: While Viktor Olofsson could make the team out of camp on the mid-six at the left wing (though he could be fighing CJ Smith for that spot), Rasmus Asplund could have trouble trying to break through the center depth of the Sabres– not only the ones they have now, but the ones they have coming up, as well. If all goes well for Arttu Ruotsalainen in his transition to North America, he could see some time on the shuttle back and forth.

ECHL: Cincinnati Cyclones (51-13-5-3, 1st in Central, lost in second round)
TEAM LINEAGE: While they started in the ECHL, the Cyclones really made their mark in the IHL before coming back to the ECHL in 2002. However, with the Sabres, they’ve only been around two seasons. Prior to that, the Elmira Jackals, BC Icemen, South Carolina Stingrays, St. Thomas Wildcats, Erie Panthers, and Winston-Salem Thunderbirds were some of the secondary affiliates for the Sabres.
NOTABLE GRADUATE: One of the more notable graduates of the Cyclones is David Desharnais, who played his first pro season in Cincinnati and put up 106 points in 68 games, while also potting 33 points in 22 playoff games, helping the Cyclones to the 2008 Kelly Cup. Other alums include Byron Froese and Cory Conacher both got their early career going in Cincinnati.

Better Know An Affiliate: Boston Bruins

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: Providence Bruins (38-27-8-3, 4th in Atlantic, lost in first round)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Bruins and P-Bruins have one of the longest affiliation histories out there with the two being linked since 1992. The franchise itself was spawned of the Maine Mariners, which was the primary affiliates of the Bruins since 1987. Previous to that, Boston had their primary affiliates be the Moncton Golden Flames, Hershey Bears, Baltimore Skipjacks, Springfield Indians, Broome Dusters, and Providence Reds to name a few for a team with a 93-year history.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Despite last year starting with a concussion, Urho Vaakanainen came back strong with solid play in Providence after a wonderful World Junior run. He won’t be the flashiest offensively, but Vaakanainen brings a high IQ on the blueline to the Bruins team. There’s a very outside chance that Zach Senyshyn gets shuttled back and forth between the Bruins. The issue with Senyshyn is that people knock him for the little things he doesn’t do right. People know he has all the tools, but little mistakes make a huge impact on people’s perspective of him.

ECHL: Atlanta Gladiators (31-30-8-3, 5th in South, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Gladiators have been with the Bruins since 2015, the same year they switched from the Gwinnett Gladiators to Atlanta. Boston has used the ECHL fairly well, starting a secondary affiliation with the Johnstown Chiefs starting in 1991. Since then, they’ve had stops with the Charlotte Checkers, Greenville Grrrowl, Reading Royals, and South Carolina Stingrays before settling down with Atlanta.
NOTABLE GRADUATES: In all honesty, there hasn’t been many players from the Gladiators to have notable careers after playing in Atlanta. Colin Stuart had some time in the show after a stint in the ECHL, Ryan Garbutt spent 10 games with the Gladiators before going up to Dallas, as Patrick Dwyer also started his pro career with the Gladiators before having a serviceable career. Louis Domingue had some time in Gwinnett over three season before getting into his back-up niche, while Marylander Jamie Fritsch had his first full pro season with the Gladiators in 2009-10.

Better Know An Affiliate: Arizona Coyotes

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: Tuscon Roadrunners (34-25-5-3, 5th in Pacific, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: After the California teams moved, the Coyotes bought the Springfield Falcons and moved them to Tucson in 2016. Much like the rest of the AHL Pacific, the reasoning was so that players didn’t have to make cross-country flights in the event of a call-up. Before the Roadrunners, the Coyotes bookended their affiliation with Springfield– who was their first affiliate from 1996 until 2004, with the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder taking some players in 1998-99. After the first time with the Falcons, the Coyotes put their prospects with the Utah Grizzlies, San Antonio Rampage, and Portland Pirates before returning to Springfield and the moving to Tucson.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: Goalie Adin Hill is a likely candidate depending upon the health of the goalies above him, but it could be a look at the blue-line for guys moving up and down. Robbie Russo, who signed a one-year, two-way deal this summer, has a lot of offensive upside that could be useful for the Coyotes moving ahead. Though, Russo’s age could play a factor– which means that another talented blue-liner– who already had some time with the Coyotes– Kyle Capobianco has the same offensive upside, but is four years younger and has a better two-way play element that Russo has; albeit very slightly.

ECHL: Rapid City Rush (30-33-5-4, 6th in Mountain, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs)
TEAM LINEAGE: The Coyotes moved back to the Black Hills of South Dakota, as the Rush return as the ECHL affiliate after the Coyotes left in 2017. The Coyotes have had a bevvy of secondary affiliates across a couple leagues– ECHL, UHL, and CHL– over the 23-year franchise history. In fact, the Coyotes have had multiple secondary affiliates four times in their franchise history: 2001-02 (Mississippi Sea Wolves and BC Icemen), 2006-07 (Phoenix Roadrunners and Laredo Bucks), 2010-11 (Las Vegas Wranglers and Laredo Bucks), and 2012 until 2014 (Gwinnett Gladiators and Arizona Sundogs).
NOTABLE GRADUATES: There have been a couple of Rush players who have moved up from the Rush to the NHL, including Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer, and Michael Bunting– all of which were called through the Coyotes system.

Better Know An Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks

The season is right around the corner, so why not let people into the whole line of teams that their parent team will be dealing with throughout the season. I did this a few years back on another website of mine, so why not revive it and go from there??

AHL: San Diego Gulls (36-24-5-3, 3rd in Pacific Division, Lost in Western Conference Final.
TEAM LINEAGE: Among the core-five of the Pacific Division, the Gulls came to be after the Ducks purchased the Norfolk Admirals and moved them to San Diego. The Gulls used to be the top affiliate for the Ducks between 1993 and 1995 when the Gulls were a part of the IHL. Previous affiliation stop for the Ducks include the Baltimore Bandits, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Portland Pirates, Iowa Chops, Syracuse Crunch, and Norfolk.
FREQUENT FLYER CANDIDATES: It’s a mixed bag with the Ducks, who are in the transition period with their current roster and what they need in the future. Sam Carrick is in the older side of the scale at 27, but also was a point-per-game player last year and had 32 goals on the campaign. More realistic is that younger players in Sam Steele and Troy Terry, who will be given more than a far shot at training camp to make it off the bat. Both had 41 points last season, but Terry put up those numbers in only 41 games compared to Steele’s 53.

ECHL: The Ducks are one of the few teams without an ECHL affiliate. With only one team, the Norfolk Admirals, without a NHL parent club– pickings are slim should the Ducks want to have more spots for their prospects. It will be their second season without an ECHL affiliate, as the Ducks were left without one when the Utah Grizzlies moved over to the Colorado Avalanche in 2018. Previous stops for the Ducks in the ECHL include the Greensboro Monarchs, Raleigh IceCaps, Columbus Chill, Huntington Blizzard, San Diego Gulls, Augusta Lynx, Bakersfield Condors, Elmira Jackals, and then Utah.

Regicide Happens in Manchester; Monarchs Cease Operations

Photo via Manchester Monarchs Twitter

With the Manchester Monarchs folding up shop, it can looked at either one of two ways. One way is that it’s a failure of ownership to adjust to the changing landscape of entertainment and couldn’t maintain an audience. Another way is that a league change wasn’t received well and the only form of protest fans knew was to not show up.

For me, it’s combination of both because the ownership couldn’t handle was what going on and people in the community couldn’t find themselves to put money towards a team that didn’t seem to be getting better. Not only that, but dropping down to a lower-league, though there’s talent in that league, didn’t sit well with fans who were coming off their first and only Calder Cup in the AHL, only to see that team move west to Ontario.

There is some kind of bitterness I could understand with a team moving down a level of play. Some people were very happy with their AHL standing and the move to the ECHL was one that could be represented as a shot at the community not being good enough rather than a logistical thing for the LA Kings to bring their affiliate closer. What they may not have realized is that the team they were getting had been on a four-season streak of 40-plus wins. It was all about status.

Attendance dropped by 1,000 people in that first season and never rebounded. That said, the last few years in the AHL were middling at best given outside influence in life and money being tight everywhere. Regardless, the drastic drop could have been due to the league change, but the team charging the same price for the team they did in a higher level– I don’t have that access to the books.

Plus, it’s not like this team was horrible– they put together over 37 wins each season they were there, made the playoffs each of the four seasons, and had plenty of things going for them in terms of prospects just starting out so people could get in on the ground floor. But it wasn’t the AHL.

In comparison, the other teams who were moved out east found some kind of success in the move– Adirondack has grown by almost 1,000 people a game in those four seasons, though they hit a downturn when they moved to ECHL. Norfolk had plenty of rumors about their future with the declining attendance, but have gotten back to over 3,500 fans a game for a non-playoff team; but also dealt with a drastic hit from the move and ownership quarrels.

Yet, how were they able to survive and keep on going despite the move and other rumors and shake-ups?? Was it understanding the market better and adjusting?? Was it the fans actually really trying to give it an honest shot at a lower level?? How come Manchester didn’t do what was needed to survive??

To say that “ECHL hockey is not viable in Manchester” is a giant cop-out and a shot to the community of Manchester who actually supported the Monarchs through it all. On top of that, it seems that the ECHL gets painted badly due to the fact that a team that was so successful in attendance a league higher couldn’t make it a league below. Probably not many people thinking that if they’re following along, but from the far outside it could look bad overall for the league to be not looked as exciting enough for a former AHL championship city to be a viable area for ECHL hockey.

In the end, maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder. One place that maybe prospective Manchester hockey revivalist could look towards is Worcester. The AHL Sharks were a team that had its ups and down, but had a decent showing before they moved out west to become the Barracuda. After two seasons offs, the ECHL Railers came into town and have topped the 4,000-plus a night their first two seasons. That’s an ownership group who did their homework, looked at the area, and adjust accordingly to be successful off the ice, with the on-ice product learning the ropes of the ECHL and hovering the .500 mark.

Manchester can be a good hockey town. History has shown us that. It’s just a matter of the fans not feeling entitled to just having the AHL and the ownership group being smarter with the product they are trying to sell to the area.

Welcome the St. John’s Brimleys….err…Growlers

tel-web-21052018_growlers_logo_large

While it wasn’t much of a secret, the St. John’s ECHL team made it official on Tuesday, as they will be named the Growlers as they enter into the 2018-19 season. Hockey will be back at The Rock with presumably the Toronto Maple Leafs as the primary affiliate– though nothing official on that has been brought forward.

The logo, as you can see, is an angry Newfoundland dog. That seems a bit oxymoronic given the loving nature of these creatures. However, there is a tie-in to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, as the logo was inspired by the mascot for the RNR in World War I, Sable Chief. Given the historically nature behind it, I feel bad for saying it looks a little like Wilford Brimley, but not bad enough to stop making that comparison.

As the second Canadian team in the league and third all-time, the Growlers are going to have a lot to manage, especially with being the furthest team east by over 1,200 miles. When Scott Wheeler did his piece about the Brampton Beast’s travels (PAYWALL BLOCK), you can only imagine how hellish the Growlers’ road trips are going to be. Also, after years of being in the AHL– how will the fan base receive the team. Will they be happy enough just to have a hockey team there to support it or will they feel like they could have gotten a QMJHL team and resent the team?? Time will tell, but I believe the former will be a lot more of a result than the latter.

Puck drops October 12th for the Growlers, as they play the Eastern Conference champions (and waiting for the Kelly Cup to start) Florida Everblades at Mile One Centre.