Being an ECHL affiliate to an NHL team isn’t quite as glamorous as it might seem on the surface.
The way hockey is structured, most top prospects are either playing major-junior in Canada – via the WHL, OHL and QMJHL – or are enrolled at an American University. Once the player is a little older, he’s usually sent to the AHL before eventually joining his NHL team.
So, where does the ECHL fit it? Good question, actually. As far as prospects go, goaltenders seem to find the most success there – simply because there are only two goaltending slots on other teams, compared to at least seven defenseman and 12 forwards. So, from a numbers standpoint, it’s easy to see why a goalie ends up in the ECHL. Hey, it worked out for Jonathan Quick – who spent most of his 2007-08 season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals.
That said, several players on the Monarchs roster last season had at least spent some time in Ontario, the Kings’ ECHL affiliate, over the few seasons prior – including their leading goal scorer, Bud Holloway, plus forward Jordan Nolan, defenseman Colten Teubert and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff.
However, last season the Kings weren’t much help to Ontario. Goalie Martin Jones started the season there – only to be sent to Manchester after playing just one game (due to Erik Ersberg returning to Europe).
Prior to the start of last season, in an interview on MayorsManor, Reign President Justin Kemp said, “We’re probably the biggest pains in the butt to (the Kings)…we try and try and try (to get players from them). The truth of the matter is, they’re tyring to work on their own things…We have a lot more to gain from certain players coming here than they do. Sometimes we don’t always see eye to eye. But, we continue to push.”
Even so, Reign coach Karl Taylor noted on several occasions last season that he wished the Kings were able to supply him with more talent.
Next season he’ll most likely be getting goalie JF Berube, a 2009 Kings draft pick and one of the top netminders in the QMJHL last season. Kings goaltending coach spoke about Berube and Ontario in an interview here.
All of the above is merely a back drop though to reports that surfaced about a week ago, suggesting the Reign were about to add a second NHL affiliate for next season (rumored to be Vancouver).
On Tuesday Kemp told J.P Hoornstra, of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, that he was in “serious discussions” with a second NHL team, one that he described as “hopefully 75 percent” sure of completing a deal with.
Wednesday night, when I asked Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille about the team’s relationship with Ontario he said, “Unfortunately, the way our set-up was last year, the goalie they were supposed to get (ended up in Manchester). A couple other players that were going there got hurt. So, we were stuck and couldn’t get them any (other) players. I know Ron Hextall is working with their coach to make sure they get the right amount of players next season so that we can really help them.”
Asked, specifically, if he thought the Reign would be adding a second affiliate, Luc said “I don’t think so. Not that I know.”
Uh oh, sounds confusing.
Kings prospect JF Berube probably seeking new nickname – most likely Ontario bound
Interview with Ontario Reign President, Justin Kemp
Ontario Reign coach on poor season – ‘it’s all on me’
Windsor’s Jeff Brown on the ‘other side’ of dev camp – mentions playing for Ontario Reign
Kings coaches heap praise at goaltender Martin Jones
Luc Robitaille at ECHL Hall of Fame luncheon
Tuesday’s with Teubert – Kings prospect Colten Teubert on his time in Ontario