Kings affiliate to remain in Queen City
MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Monarchs, affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, will play in the East Coast Hockey League beginning in 2015-16. The Ontario Reign, Los Angeles’s current ECHL affiliate, will be part of a five-team Pacific Division in the AHL next season.
Monarchs President Darren Abbott, Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille, Monarchs Executive Vice President Matt Welch, ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna, General Manager of the Verizon Wireless Arena Tim Bechert and Mayor Ted Gatsas made the announcement today in a press conference at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“I am happy to announce that our team will enter the ECHL beginning next season and play a 36-game home regular season here in The Jungle, the Verizon Wireless Arena,” Abbott said.
The team also announced a five-year extension to its agreement with the arena that runs until 2021.
“When the deal is complete, AEG and the Los Angeles Kings will have invested 20 years in the city of Manchester,” Abbott said. “The path that we blazed to get here today was not an easy one, however preserving pro hockey in the city of Manchester as an amenity was always the goal.”
The ECHL is considered a premier development league for potential NHL players. On Opening Day this season, there were 72 former ECHL players on National Hockey League rosters. Current Kings Jonathan Quick, Jordan Nolan and Dwight King all played in the ECHL. The Monarchs roster presently features ECHL products in Vincent LoVerde, J.F. Berube and Zach O’Brien.
“We are well aware of the strength of the Manchester market and the strong tradition the Monarchs have developed over the past 14 years,” McKenna said. “They are a welcome addition to the ECHL.”
The arrangement also allows the Monarchs to continue their affiliation with the team that has won the Stanley Cup in two of the past three seasons.
“It’s a great day for the Kings organization,” Robitaille said. “We have always felt this was our second home and we are very happy that we are able to stay here and play under the Kings brand. It was important to us the whole time we were negotiating and we want everyone to understand that from the AHL’s point of view it was a hockey decision to get a few of our young guys a little bit closer, but for us, the opportunity to stay in Manchester has been so great for the Kings. We understand that [Manchester] is a great hockey market with very passionate fans.”
The ECHL began play in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. It has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 554 players who have gone on to play in the NHL after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 13 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th con