DENVER – With the move to the American Hockey League for the Colorado Eagles, the need existed for a new ECHL affiliate.
The Colorado Avalanche did not have to look very far for that partner.
On Thursday, the Avalanche announced the Utah Grizzlies would be their new ECHL affiliate. The Grizzlies and Avalanche history goes back to 1995 when the Grizzlies departed for Utah after one season in Denver to make way for the Quebec Nordiques NHL relocation to the Mile High City.
“We feel very fortunate to be part of the Grizzlies family,” Colorado Avalanche Assistant General Manager Craig Billington said during the introductory press conference. “We are dealing with people that are philosophically aligned with us. We are dedicated to developing players and feel fortunate to have that here in Salt Lake now.”
The Grizzlies are coming off a season that saw them miss the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row and have major roster turnover in-season. Prior to the affiliation with the Avalanche, the Grizzlies spent the last two seasons as the double-A affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.
Colorado’s ECHL affiliate has reached at least the second round of the playoffs in five consecutive seasons and at least the Conference Finals in three-straight seasons.
“We’re extremely excited about utilizing the resources the Avalanche have and look forward to working with them to put a competitive team on the ice,” said Grizzlies Head Coach and General Manager Tim Branham.
With the youngest team in the NHL, the Avalanche returned to the playoffs in 2017-2018 with a 43-30-9 record, a 47-point increase from 2016-2017 and the fourth largest year-to-year point increase in NHL history.
The affiliation announced today means there are just three ECHL teams — Fort Wayne Komets, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and Orlando Solar Bears — who are left without player development partners, while there are six such organizations at the NHL level.
To keep up with all of the affiliations in minor league hockey, visit our affiliations page: https://thesinbin.net/affiliations/.