ECHL

The ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Princeton, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and two franchises in Canada. It is a tier below the American Hockey League.

The ECHL and the AHL are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association, meaning any player signed to an entry-level NHL contract and designated for assignment must report to a club in either the ECHL or the AHL.[1] Additionally, the league's players are represented by the Professional Hockey Players' Association in negotiations with the ECHL itself. Some 623 players have played at least one game in both the NHL and the ECHL.[2]

For the 2018–19 season, 25 of 31 National Hockey League teams had affiliations with an ECHL team[3] with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks having no official affiliations as of September 29, 2018. The two independent teams are the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Rapid City Rush. However, unaffiliated NHL teams do sometimes lend contracted players to ECHL teams for development and increased playing time.

The league's regular season begins in October and ends in April. The current ECHL champion is the Newfoundland Growlers, a 2018–19 expansion team that won the title in its inaugural season.

ECHL
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2019–20 ECHL season
East Coast Hockey League
ECHL Official logo
SportIce hockey
Founded1988
No. of teams26
CountryUnited States (24 teams)
Canada (2 teams)
Most recent
champion(s)
Newfoundland Growlers (1st title)
Most titlesAlaska Aces,
Hampton Roads Admirals and
South Carolina Stingrays (3 each)
TV partner(s)Canada (English): Sportsnet/Sportsnet One
Canada (French): TVA Sports
United States: NHL Network
Official websiteOfficial website

History

Canadian-based teams in the ECHL as of the 2019–20 season. Dot colors correspond to the divisional alignment.

The league, which combined teams from the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League and All-American Hockey League, began play as the East Coast Hockey League in 1988 with 5 teams—the (Winston-Salem, North) Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers); the Erie Panthers (folded in 2011 as the Victoria Salmon Kings); the Johnstown Chiefs (now the Greenville Swamp Rabbits); the Knoxville Cherokees (ceased operations as the Pee Dee Pride in 2005; folded in 2009 following failed relocation efforts); and the Virginia Lancers (now the Utah Grizzlies).

In 2003, the West Coast Hockey League ceased operations, and the ECHL Board of Governors approved membership applications from the Anchorage/Alaska Aces, the Bakersfield Condors, the Fresno Falcons, the Idaho Steelheads, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the San Diego Gulls as well as from potential teams in Ontario, California and Reno, Nevada. Alaska, Bakersfield, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas, Long Beach and San Diego began play in the 2003–04 season as expansion teams. In a change reflective of the league's now-nationwide presence, the East Coast Hockey League shortened its name to the orphan initialism ECHL on May 19, 2003. The ECHL reached its largest size to date (31 teams) that season before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004–05 season.

The ECHL has attempted to be more tech-friendly to its fans. Some improvements on the league's website have included a new schedule and statistics engine powered by League Stat, Inc. (introduced in 2006), internet radio coverage for most teams, and pay-per view broadcasting of ECHL games through B2 Networks (a subsidiary of America One Broadcasting). In 2008, the league introduced the ECHL toolbar for internet browsers which gave users short cut access to statistics, scores, transactions, and news updates.[4]

Faceoff Oct 2012 Kalamazoo at Toledo
ECHL action, October 2012 in Toledo, Ohio between the Kalamazoo Wings and the Toledo Walleye.

At the annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting on June 15, 2010, in Henderson, Nevada, the Board of Governors approved changes to the names of the conferences and divisions. The former American Conference (comprising eleven East Coast and Midwest teams) was renamed the Eastern Conference, while the National Conference (consisting of 8 West Coast teams, including the league's only Canadian team at the time) was re-designated the Western Conference. Within the Eastern Conference, the East Division was renamed the Atlantic Division, and the Western Conference's former West Division was dubbed the Mountain Division.[5]

The league lost its only Canadian team with the folding of the Victoria Salmon Kings subsequent to the 2010–11 season.[6] The league increased to 20 teams for the 2011–12 season with the addition of the expansion franchise Chicago Express[7] and the Colorado Eagles who previously played in the Central Hockey League.[8]

With the folding of the Chicago Express at the conclusion of the 2011–12 season and the announcement of expansion franchises in Orlando, San Francisco, Evansville and Fort Wayne (both in Indiana and both from the Central Hockey League) the league played the 2012–13 season with 23 teams. That number dropped to 22 for the 2013–14 season with the folding of the Trenton Titans and subsequently fell to 21 with the mid-season folding of the San Francisco Bulls on January 27, 2014. On November 26, 2013, the ECHL announced that the Indy Fuel would begin play for the 2014–15 season and would play its home games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, a 6,145-seat building located on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

On October 7, 2014, the ECHL announced that the seven remaining active members of the Central Hockey League (the Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Quad City Mallards, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder) would be admitted as new members for the 2014–15 season, raising the number of teams to 28 and placing a team in Canada for the first time since 2011.[9]

Before the 2015–16 season, the AHL's creation of a Pacific Division led the three California ECHL teams to relocate to former AHL cities with the Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, and Stockton Thunder relocating to become the Norfolk Admirals, Manchester Monarchs, and Adirondack Thunder, respectively.[10] By the 2018–19 season, the ECHL had also expanded into other markets recently vacated by the AHL in the Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, and Worcester Railers.

Teams

Current

Division Team City Arena Founded Joined Head Coach NHL Affiliate AHL Affiliate
Eastern Conference
North Adirondack Thunder Glens Falls, New York Cool Insuring Arena 1990* Alex Loh New Jersey Devils Binghamton Devils
Brampton Beast Brampton, Ontario CAA Centre 2013 2014 Colin Chaulk Ottawa Senators Belleville Senators
Maine Mariners Portland, Maine Cross Insurance Arena 1989* 2003 Riley Armstrong New York Rangers Hartford Wolf Pack
Newfoundland Growlers St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Mile One Centre 2018 John Snowden Toronto Maple Leafs Toronto Marlies
Reading Royals Reading, Pennsylvania Santander Arena 1991* Kirk MacDonald Philadelphia Flyers Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Worcester Railers Worcester, Massachusetts DCU Center 2017 Jamie Russell New York Islanders Bridgeport Sound Tigers
South Atlanta Gladiators Duluth, Georgia Infinite Energy Arena 1995* Jeff Pyle Boston Bruins Providence Bruins
Florida Everblades Estero, Florida Hertz Arena 1998 Brad Ralph Nashville Predators Milwaukee Admirals
Greenville Swamp Rabbits Greenville, South Carolina Bon Secours Wellness Arena 1987* 1988 Kevin Kerr Independent
Jacksonville Icemen Jacksonville, Florida VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena 1992* 2012 Jason Christie Winnipeg Jets Manitoba Moose
Norfolk Admirals Norfolk, Virginia Norfolk Scope 1995* 2003 Robbie Ftorek Arizona Coyotes Tucson Roadrunners
Orlando Solar Bears Orlando, Florida Amway Center 2012 Drake Berehowsky Tampa Bay Lightning Syracuse Crunch
South Carolina Stingrays North Charleston, South Carolina North Charleston Coliseum 1993 Steve Bergin Washington Capitals Hershey Bears
Western Conference
Central Cincinnati Cyclones Cincinnati, Ohio U.S. Bank Arena 1995* Matt Thomas Buffalo Sabres Rochester Americans
Fort Wayne Komets Fort Wayne, Indiana Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 1985* 2012 Ben Boudreau Vegas Golden Knights Chicago Wolves
Indy Fuel Indianapolis, Indiana Indiana Farmers Coliseum 2014 Doug Christiansen Chicago Blackhawks Rockford IceHogs
Kalamazoo Wings Kalamazoo, Michigan Wings Event Center 1999* 2009 Nick Bootland Vancouver Canucks Utica Comets
Toledo Walleye Toledo, Ohio Huntington Center 1991 Dan Watson Detroit Red Wings Grand Rapids Griffins
Wheeling Nailers Wheeling, West Virginia WesBanco Arena 1981* 1988 Mike Bavis Pittsburgh Penguins Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Mountain Allen Americans Allen, Texas Allen Event Center 2009 2014 Steve Martinson Minnesota Wild Iowa Wild
Idaho Steelheads Boise, Idaho CenturyLink Arena 1997 2003 Neil Graham Dallas Stars Texas Stars
Kansas City Mavericks Independence, Missouri Silverstein Eye Centers Arena 2009 2014 John-Scott Dickson Calgary Flames Stockton Heat
Rapid City Rush Rapid City, South Dakota Rushmore Plaza Civic Center 2008 2014 Daniel Tetrault Independent
Tulsa Oilers Tulsa, Oklahoma BOK Center 1992 2014 Rob Murray St. Louis Blues San Antonio Rampage
Utah Grizzlies West Valley City, Utah Maverik Center 1981* 1988 Tim Branham Colorado Avalanche Colorado Eagles
Wichita Thunder Wichita, Kansas Intrust Bank Arena 1992 2014 Bruce Ramsay Edmonton Oilers Bakersfield Condors
Notes
  1. An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.

Future teams

Representatives from all potential expansion franchises, markets that have been granted expansion franchises and franchises that have suspended operations must attend the league's annual Board of Governors Meeting between seasons and provide progress reports on their situations in order to keep their ECHL franchise rights. For dormant and existing franchises, the Board of Governors votes whether or not to extend a franchise's league license until the next Board of Governors Meeting.

At the 2012 Board of Governors Meeting, the Board elected to limit the league to 26 teams, with an emphasis on adding teams to the Western Conference.[11] However, it was decided at the 2015 Board of Governors meeting that the cap should be expanded to 30 teams, hoping to eventually match the NHL and AHL's 30-team total.[12]

The ECHL listed Reno, Nevada, as a "future market"[13] and has been considered for an expansion team since the 2003 WCHL-ECHL merger, but efforts to establish a team in the market have been repeatedly thwarted by failed attempts to find or build a suitable arena.[14] Reno has not had a minor league hockey team since its WCHL franchise folded in 1998. After being listed for about a decade, Reno was eventually removed from the future markets' page in spring 2016. However, in September 2016, new ownership group called Reno Puck Club, LLC came forward and began negotiations with the Reno city council about bringing in an ECHL team.[15]

Defunct and relocated teams

Since starting with five franchises in its inaugural season, the ECHL has had dozens of franchises join and leave the league. Typically, these teams fold or relocate due to operation issues or financial losses. The Johnstown Chiefs became the last remaining founding franchise of the East Coast Hockey League to remain in its original city until it relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, following the completion of the 2009–10 season.[16]

While the ECHL has stated in recent years they would not grant voluntary suspensions of franchises for more than one year, both the Toledo Storm (now the Toledo Walleye) and Mississippi Sea Wolves (now defunct) were granted two-year suspensions—the Sea Wolves because of Hurricane Katrina and the Storm in order to demolish their present arena and construct a new one in downtown Toledo. The Mississippi Sea Wolves resumed play for the 2007–08 season, while the Toledo Walleye resumed play in their new arena for the 2009–10 season. The cost of suspending operations to an ECHL franchise was "about $100,000" in 2003,[17] and has remained unchanged as of the 2011–12 ECHL season. After the 2013–14 season the Las Vegas Wranglers voluntarily suspended operations for the 2014–15 season due to an inability to locate a new venue in a timely manner after losing their lease at the Orleans Arena. The Wranglers were authorized by the league to return for the 2015–16 season pending a successful search for a new arena.[18] However, after a year of searching for a new home, as well as NHL interest in the Las Vegas market, the Wranglers announced on January 30, 2015, that the team had folded and withdrawn their membership from the ECHL.[19]

On March 30, 2009, the Dayton Bombers and Mississippi Sea Wolves announced that they would suspend operations for the 2009–10 season.[20] Dayton would receive a franchise in the International Hockey League and Biloxi, Mississippi, would receive a team in the Southern Professional Hockey League that same year.

The Victoria Salmon Kings, prior to 2014 the only Canadian franchise in league history, folded following their Western Conference finals loss in the 2011 Kelly Cup playoffs to make way for a Western Hockey League, (Victoria Royals) franchise at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. RG Properties opted to withdraw the franchise from the ECHL with full approval from the league's Board of Governors, folding the franchise instead of selling the club's ECHL rights to be moved to another market, marking the end of a franchise that began as the Erie Panthers, one of the ECHL's charter teams.[6]

Seven former ECHL franchises have been directly replaced in their respective markets by American Hockey League franchises. The Greensboro Monarchs were the first, being replaced by the Carolina Monarchs in 1995. The Hampton Roads Admirals were the second, giving way to the Norfolk Admirals in 2000. The Peoria Rivermen were the third. In their case, the replacement franchise retained the Worcester IceCats history but assumed the Rivermen identity for their first AHL season of 2005–06. The Charlotte Checkers were the fourth, yielding to a franchise that retained the Albany River Rats history following the club's move to Charlotte following the 2009–10 season and assumed the Checkers identity.[21] In each of these cases, the ECHL franchise was relinquished to the league by its respective ownership group. In 2015, the three California franchises (Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, and Stockton Thunder) were displaced by the formation of an AHL Pacific Division. Each ECHL franchise involved in the territorial shift were either owned or purchased by their NHL affiliate prior to being relocated.[10]

Timeline

Kelly Cup playoff format

For the 2012–13 season, eight teams still qualify in the Eastern Conference: the three division winners plus the next five teams in the conference. With the addition of the expansion franchise in San Francisco, the Board of Governors changed the Western Conference seeding such that eight teams qualify: two division winners and the next six teams in the conference. This eliminated the Western Conference first-round bye.[22]

Similar to the NHL at the time, the division winners were seeded as the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference and the top two seeds in the Western Conference; the conference winner faced the eighth seed, second faces seventh, third faces sixth and fourth faces fifth in the conference quarterfinal round. The winner of the 1st/8th series played the winner of the 4th/5th series while 2nd/7th winner played against the 3rd/6th winner in the conference semifinal series. The Board of Governors also elected to change the playoff format such that all rounds of the playoffs are now best of seven series.[22] For 2012-13, the Conference Finals and Kelly Cup Finals will use a two-referee system.[11]

Because of the late addition of the CHL teams for the 2014–15 season and its subsequent conference alignment, the top four teams in each division qualified for the playoffs and the first two playoff rounds were played within the divisions.[23]

For the realignment prior to the 2015–16 season, the playoffs changed once again to a six-division format. At the end of the regular season the top team in each division qualified for the playoffs and be seeded either 1, 2, or 3 based on highest point total earned in the season. Then the five non-division winning teams with the highest point totals in each conference qualified for the playoffs and be seeded 4 through 8. All four rounds will be a best-of-seven format.[24]

The alignment changed back to four divisions for the 2016–17 season, but the playoffs kept the divisional format. The top four teams in each division qualifies for the playoffs and play in division for the first two rounds. After the division finals, the winners then play the conference finals and followed by the Kelly Cup finals.

ECHL Hall of Fame

In celebration of the league's 20th year of play, the ECHL Board of Governors created the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, to recognize the achievements of players, coaches, and personnel who dedicated their careers to the league.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Collective Bargaining Agreement between National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association" (PDF). NHL and NHLPA. July 22, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 20, 2008. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2011-10-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Press release (July 14, 2008). "ECHL Toolbar Available Now". ECHL. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  5. ^ Press release (June 21, 2010). "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting Concludes". ECHL. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Dheenshaw, Cleve (May 7, 2011). "RG opts to fold Salmon Kings franchise". Times Colonist. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Selvam, Ashok (June 19, 2010). "Sears Centre to house new hockey team". Daily Herald. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  8. ^ Press release (May 31, 2011). "Board of Governors approves expansion membership for Colorado". ECHL. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  9. ^ "ECHL Accepts Seven Members". ECHL. October 7, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "ECHL BOARD OF GOVERNORS ANNOUNCES MAJOR MOVES". ECHL. January 30, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-02. Retrieved 2015-02-02.
  11. ^ a b Press Release. "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting Concludes". ECHL. Archived from the original on 2012-10-12. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-02. Retrieved 2015-02-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Future Markets" Archived 2016-07-15 at the Wayback Machine, ECHL. (accessed 24 June 2014).
  14. ^ Sneddon, Steve. "Leasure retains rights to Reno ECHL franchise", Reno Gazette-Journal, June 20, 2006. (accessed 24 June 2014)
  15. ^ "Council approves next step for bringing pro hockey to Reno". KRNV-DT. September 15, 2016.
  16. ^ Mastovich, Mike (February 15, 2010). "Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina". Tribune-Democrat. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  17. ^ "ECHL Club Goes Dormant Indefinitely; More Teams To Follow?". sportsbusinessdaily.com. April 2, 2003. Archived from the original on 2014-12-13. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  18. ^ Guillermo, Matt. "Venue flux to sideline Las Vegas Wranglers next season" Archived 2018-03-21 at the Wayback Machine, KVVU-TV, May 20, 2014. (accessed 15 June 2014)
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-02. Retrieved 2015-01-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Press release (March 30, 2009). "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting". ECHL. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
  21. ^ Scott, David (February 11, 2010). "Checkers moving up in world". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  22. ^ a b Press release (September 27, 2012). "Board of Governors approves playoff format, reserve list". ECHL. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012.
  23. ^ "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting concludes" Archived 2014-06-25 at the Wayback Machine, ECHL, June 24, 2014. (accessed 24 June 2014)
  24. ^ "ALIGNMENT, PLAYOFF FORMAT ANNOUNCED FOR 2015-16 SEASON". ECHL. February 3, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-05-07. Retrieved 2015-06-29.

External links

2008–09 ECHL season

The 2008–09 ECHL season was the 21st of the ECHL.

2011–12 ECHL season

The 2011–12 ECHL season was the 24th season of the ECHL. The regular season schedule ran from October 4, 2011 to March 31, 2012 and was followed by the 2012 Kelly Cup playoffs beginning on April 2, 2012.

2012–13 ECHL season

The 2012–13 ECHL season was the 25th season of the ECHL. The regular season schedule ran from October 12, 2012 to March 30, 2013, with the Kelly Cup playoffs to follow. The All-Star Game, not held in 2011-12, was brought back and held on January 23, 2013 at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado, home of the Colorado Eagles.

2014–15 ECHL season

The 2014–15 ECHL season was the 27th season of the ECHL. The regular season schedule ran from October 17, 2014, to April 11, 2015, with the Kelly Cup playoffs following. Twenty-eight teams in 20 states and one Canadian province each played a 72-game schedule. The league was significantly expanded just before the season in October 2014 after a merger with its longtime rival, the Central Hockey League.

Alaska Aces (ECHL)

For the Filipino professional basketball team, see Alaska Aces (PBA).The Alaska Aces, known as the Anchorage Aces until 2003, were a minor league ice hockey team in Anchorage, Alaska. Home games were played at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. The Aces won three Kelly Cup championships, with their last championship following the 2013–14 ECHL season.

The Aces were formed as a semi-professional team in the Pacific Southwest Hockey League (PSHL) in 1989 and became a charter member of the professional West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) in 1995. When the WCHL was absorbed by the East Coast Hockey League in 2003, the team joined the merged ECHL.

The Aces official team mascot was a polar bear named Boomer. Aces fans were known for using small, ceremonial cow bells painted with the Aces insignia to show their support during games.

In 2017, the ownership group announced that the 2016–17 season would be the team's last, after which the franchise would cease operations. The owners cited the struggling Alaskan economy, and sagging ticket sales among the reasons for the club's financial downfall. In June 2017, the franchise was sold and relocated to Portland, Maine, for the 2018–19 season.

Allen Americans

The Allen Americans are an ice hockey team headquartered at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas, which currently plays in the ECHL. The team was founded in 2009 in the Central Hockey League (CHL) where they played for five seasons, winning the Ray Miron President's Cup twice. The CHL folded in 2014 and the ECHL accepted the remaining CHL teams as members for the 2014–15 season. In their first two seasons in the ECHL, Allen advanced to the Kelly Cup finals, winning the championship in both years.

Currently, the Americans are affiliated with the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild and the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.

Central Hockey League

The Central Hockey League (CHL) was a North American mid-level minor professional ice hockey league which operated from 1992 until 2014. Until 2013, it was owned by Global Entertainment Corporation, at which point it was purchased by the individual franchise owners. As of the end of its final season in 2014, three of the 30 National Hockey League teams had affiliations with the CHL: the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Several teams of defunct leagues joined the CHL along its history, including the Southern Hockey League, Western Professional Hockey League and International Hockey League. After two teams suspended operations during the 2014 offseason, the ECHL accepted the remaining seven teams as members in October 2014, meaning the end for the CHL after 22 seasons.

Cincinnati Cyclones

The Cincinnati Cyclones are a professional ice hockey team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The team is a member of the ECHL. Originally established in 1990, the team first played their games in the Cincinnati Gardens and now play at U.S. Bank Arena. The Cyclones are a minor league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres (National Hockey League) and the Rochester Americans (American Hockey League).

Cincinnati has fielded Cyclones teams with three separate franchises in two different leagues: the International Hockey League (1992–2001) and the ECHL (1990–1992, 2001–2004, 2006–present). Together, the franchises have combined to win two Kelly Cups (2008 and 2010), three conference championships (2008, 2010 and 2014), two overall points championships (2008 and 2019), and five division championships (1996, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2019). In 2007–08, the team had the most successful season in ECHL history with 55 wins, 115 points, and its first conference and league championships.

Colorado Eagles

The Colorado Eagles are a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Loveland, Colorado. The Eagles play in the Pacific Division of the American Hockey League's Western Conference.

The Eagles were founded as an expansion franchise in 2003 in the Central Hockey League and remained in the league until June 2011, when they joined the ECHL. During their time in the CHL, the Eagles won two Ray Miron President's Cups, three regular season titles, five conference titles and six division titles in eight seasons. The team was granted a membership as an expansion team in the American Hockey League beginning with the 2018–19 season as the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League.

The Eagles play at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland and serve the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan area.

Florida Everblades

The Florida Everblades are a minor league ice hockey team based in Estero, Florida; near Fort Myers. They play in the ECHL and are affiliated with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL) as of the 2019–20 season. Their home games are played at Hertz Arena.

The Everblades were founded in 1998. They play in the South Division of the Eastern Conference in the ECHL. They have only missed the playoffs once in team history (2013–14), and have made four appearances in the Kelly Cup finals, winning in 2012.

Idaho Steelheads

The Idaho Steelheads are an American professional minor league ice hockey team based in Boise, Idaho. The team began playing in 1997 and has been a member of the ECHL since 2003.

During the 2003–04 season and since the 2005–06 season the Steelheads have been an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars. The Austin-based Texas Stars have been Idaho's AHL affiliate since the 2009–10 season. Home games are played at the 5,000-seat CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise.

In 1996, the Steelheads were announced as a 1997–98 expansion team by Diamond Sports Management, headed by Cord Pereira. The Steelheads play in the Mountain Division of the ECHL's Western Conference in 2016–17.

The Steelheads are named for a species of seagoing rainbow trout native to Idaho streams and rivers and popular with local anglers. Despite this, the original primary and alternate logos consisted of a puck bouncing off a hockey mask and the state of Idaho respectively. When the team underwent a rebrand in the 2006–07 season, a trout was included in Idaho's alternate. After the departure of the Victoria Salmon Kings in 2011, the Steelheads made the trout logo their new primary one.

As of 2017, the Steelheads are the westernmost ECHL team.

Kalamazoo Wings

The Kalamazoo Wings, nicknamed the K-Wings, are a mid-level professional ice hockey team in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A member of the ECHL's Western Conference, Central Division, they play in the 5,113-seat Wings Event Center. They are the affiliate of the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League and Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League.

Kalamazoo is home to the "Green Ice Game". Played since 1982 on St. Patrick's Day, it is one of the most celebrated games in minor league hockey. The team has sought to duplicate the game's success with the Pink Ice Game (Valentine's Day), the Orange Ice Game (Halloween) and a new creation, the Blue Ice Game (sponsored by Bell's Brewery).

Maine Mariners (ECHL)

The Maine Mariners are a professional ice hockey team in the ECHL that began play in the 2018–19 season. Based in Portland, Maine, the team plays their home games at the Cross Insurance Arena. The team participate in the North Division of the Eastern Conference.

The team replaces the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates after the franchise became the Springfield Thunderbirds in 2016.

Newfoundland Growlers

The Newfoundland Growlers are a professional minor league ice hockey team in the ECHL based in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The team began play in the 2018–19 ECHL season with home games at Mile One Centre. They are members in the North Division of the Eastern Conference and are affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League and Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)

The Orlando Solar Bears are a professional ice hockey team that plays their home games at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. They play in the South Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference and are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League and Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

Reading Royals

The Reading Royals are a professional ice hockey team that currently plays in the ECHL. The team participates in the North Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The Royals play their home games at the Santander Arena located in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania. The Royals colors are purple, black, silver, and white. Since 2001, the Royals have ranked among ECHL leaders in regular season attendance. On March 25, 2006, against the Trenton Titans, the Royals reached their one millionth fan in attendance. The Royals hosted two ECHL All-Star Games; one in 2005 and one in 2009.

The Royals were the 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup champions. They earned the title with a five-game victory over the Stockton Thunder in the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals.

Toledo Walleye

The Toledo Walleye are a professional ice hockey team based in Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the ECHL. The Walleye were founded in 1991 as the Toledo Storm and play their home games at the Huntington Center, which opened in 2009.

Since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, the team has been affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League with an agreement in place through the 2020–21 season.The team is currently owned and operated by Toledo Arena Sports, Inc. The current ownership group is a subsidiary of Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club, Inc., another ownership that owns and operates the Toledo Mud Hens.

Utah Grizzlies

The Utah Grizzlies are a professional ice hockey team in the ECHL. They play their home games at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.

Worcester Railers

The Worcester Railers (also called Worcester Railers HC) are a professional ice hockey team based in Worcester, Massachusetts. The team began play in the 2017–18 ECHL season, and is a member of the North Division of the Eastern Conference of the ECHL. The team plays their home games at the DCU Center and are the ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders.The team replaces the AHL's Worcester Sharks, who relocated to San Jose, California, in 2015 to become the San Jose Barracuda.

ECHL (2019–20)
Eastern
Conference
Western
Conference
Professional ice hockey leagues in North America

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