Keeping with a successful formula, the Kalamazoo Wings will have a duel National Hockey League affiliation for the 2014-15 season. The K-Wings renewed their affiliation agreement with the Vancouver Canucks and have entered a new two-year agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets. These agreements mark the fifth time in the past six seasons the K-Wings will have a dual affiliation.
Both agreements include partnerships with each club’s AHL affiliations, the Utica Comets (Vancouver) and the Springfield Falcons (Columbus). While the K-Wings will no longer be affiliated with the St. Louis Blues, their long standing relationship with the Chicago Wolves will continue.
Under the affiliation arrangements during the 2014-15 season, Vancouver, Columbus, Utica, Springfield and Chicago will have the ability to assign players to Kalamazoo.
“The entire Vancouver Canucks organization has been amazing to work with and we are elated to continue our relationship,” said K-Wings Director of Hockey Operations/Head Coach Nick Bootland. “With being in constant communication with Lorne Henning and Pat Conacher, our ability to develop their prospects and bolster our lineup makes this a great fit for our organization.”
This season marks the fourth straight season the K-Wings have had a relationship with the Canucks. Last season Vancouver finished the regular season with a record of 36-35-11.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden. “Kalamazoo is an organization that shares our level of commitment for success and we will continue to work together to provide our prospects with opportunities to further develop on and off the ice.”
Since becoming a member of the NHL in 1970, Vancouver has advanced to the Stanley Cup finals on three occasions. The first time they were up against the New York Islanders in 1982, next it was the New York Rangers in 1994, and most recently in 2011 against the Boston Bruins.
For the second straight season Vancouver’s AHL affiliate will be the Utica Comets. The Comets finished their inaugural season with a record of 35-32-5-4.
Rejuvenated by new ownership two seasons ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Davidson as their Team President of Hockey Operations and the foundation for winning began immediately. Finishing fourth in the Metropolitan Division a season ago with a record of 43-32-7, the Blue Jackets reached the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in their organization’s history.
During their post-season appearance, Columbus made organization history by winning their first two playoff games.
“Chris MacFarland and the Columbus Blue Jackets have a great reputation of communicating well with their affiliates,” said Bootland. “We are excited to begin a two-year agreement with an organization that has so many young and talented prospects.”
This will be first time the K-Wings will be affiliated with the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets played their inaugural NHL campaign during the 2000-2001 season. Later this season, Columbus will host their first ever NHL All-Star Game.
“We are excited to have the Kalamazoo Wings as our new ECHL affiliate,” said Columbus Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland, who oversees hockey operations for the club’s professional affiliates. “We look forward to working with Head Coach Nick Bootland and the entire K-Wings organization to help us develop some of the young players in our system.”
The Springfield Falcons have been the primary affiliate of the Blue Jackets since 2010. Capturing their second straight Northeast Division title a season ago, the Falcons finished the season with a record of 47-23-1-5.
Entering their 21st season, the Chicago Wolves have captured four league titles: the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup in 1998 and 2000, and the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup in 2002 and 2008. Even more incredible, since their inception in 1994, Chicago hasn’t experienced any losing seasons.
“It is outstanding to have a partnership with Wendell Young and the Chicago Wolves, who clearly understand and respect the day-to-day roster challenges of an ECHL team, said Bootland. “Our proximity to Chicago also makes this affiliation beneficial for both teams.”
Last season with a record of 45-21-5-5 the Wolves finished second in the Midwest Division.
“We look forward to continuing our relationship with a first-class organization like Kalamazoo,” said Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “We have full confidence in Head Coach Nick Bootland and the Wings’ ability to make our players better and allow them to smoothly transition to the American Hockey League.”
In its team history, the K-Wings have had an NHL affiliation on 12 occasions and currently are in their second term with Vancouver and first with Columbus. Kalamazoo was affiliated with the Canucks from 1984-87 when the K-Wings were a member of the International Hockey League.
In their overall history, the K-Wings have been affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings (1974-1987), Philadelphia Flyers (1984-1987; 2009-2010), Vancouver Canucks (1984-1987; 2011-present), Minnesota North Stars (1987-1993), Dallas Stars (1993-2000), San Jose Sharks (2009-2010), New York Islanders (2010-2011), New Jersey Devils (2011-2012), St. Louis Blues (2013-2014) and Columbus Blue Jackets (2014-present).
Season and flexi-plan tickets for the upcoming 2014-2015 season of K-Wings hockey are currently on sale at the K-Wings front office. Fans can purchase their tickets during regular business hours by calling a K-Wings Ticket Representative at (269) 743-6011.
The 41st season of K-Wings hockey will commence on Friday, October 17th at the First Arena in Elmira, New York against the Elmira Jackals. Kalamazoo will begin the home portion of their schedule a week later. On Friday, October 24th the K-Wings will host the Fort Wayne Komets at Wings Stadium during the 11thAnnual Orange Ice Game. Fans are encouraged to dress in costumes and participate in Halloween festivities.
Submitted by Mike Modugno