FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The ECHL is adding seven teams from the CHL effective immediately in what the league is calling a “complete consolidation.”
“It is a historic day for hockey, and great day for Komets fans,” team president Michael Franke told WANE-TV by phone on Tuesday. Franke, who is on the ECHL’s executive board, is in Chicago to help facilitate the move.
“It won’t change a whole lot for Komets fans this year, in terms of the schedule,” Franke added. “The home dates will stay exactly the same. A few of the opponents might change – there will be three or four opponent changes. The most important thing is that it puts all of Double-A hockey under one umbrella, and it unifies it all across the board. Now there is a clear delineation of Double-A, Triple-A, and NHL hockey, similar to the strong structure you’ve seen in baseball over the years.”
ECHL/CHL mergers surfaced earlier this summer, and today’s transaction comes as little surprise to hockey fans.
The ECHL now will boast 28 teams – adding Allen, Brampton, Missouri, Quad City, Rapid City, Tulsa, and Wichita from the CHL.
The Komets have history with a number of those teams – specifically Missouri and Rapid City – from their previous playoff runs in the CHL.
The following is the press released distributed by the ECHL on Tuesday:
CHICAGO – The ECHL announced on Tuesday that the League’s Board of Governors has approved the Membership applications of the Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder for admission to the ECHL.
The seven expansion teams will begin play in the ECHL this season, giving the League 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season of operation, which begins on Friday, Oct. 17 and runs through Saturday, April 11.
The applicants were approved at a special meeting of the ECHL Board of Governors in Chicago on Tuesday.
“The ECHL is very pleased to welcome these new Members to the League,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “These additions strengthen our base in the center of the country and give the ECHL, for the first time, a true national presence. It expands our ability to act as a development league and more closely aligns our number of teams with both the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League.
“There will be logistical challenges in the short term, however, in the long term, it is certainly in the best interest of the ECHL, the new Members and minor-league hockey in general,” McKenna added.
Updates to the 2014-15 ECHL playing schedule, divisional alignment and the format for the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs will be released at a later date.