|September 19, 2013 - Mike Modugno
Director of Public Relations and Broadcaster
Kalamazoo, MI- For the fourth time in the past five seasons the Kalamazoo Wings will have a dual affiliation. The K-Wings have renewed their affiliation agreement with the Vancouver Canucks and have entered a new agreement with the St. Louis Blues.
Both agreements will include partnerships with each club’s AHL affiliations, the Utica Comets (Vancouver) and the Chicago Wolves (St. Louis). Under the affiliation arrangement, during the 2013-14 season, Vancouver, St. Louis, Utica and Chicago will have the ability to assign players to Kalamazoo.
"We are excited to extend our partnership with an elite organization like the Vancouver Canucks," said K-Wings Director of Hockey Operations/Head Coach Nick Bootland. “Vancouver does an outstanding job in communicating with our organization which leads to the aid and growth of their prospects.”
This marks the third straight season the K-Wings have had a relationship with the Canucks. Last season, the Canucks captured their fifth straight Northwest Division title with a record of 26-15-7 (59 points).
“We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said Canucks President and General Manager Michael D. Gillis. “We’ve been pleased with the support and development of a number of our players with the K-Wings. We look forward to continue working with this great organization as an important juncture in our prospects’ careers.”
Since becoming a member of the National Hockey League 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.
This season, Vancouver’s AHL affiliate will be the Utica Comets. The Comets will be playing their inaugural season in the AHL.
Finishing second in the Central Division a season ago with a record of 29-17-2 (60 points), the Blues reached the NHL postseason for the second consecutive season. St. Louis has been a constant fixture in hunt for the Stanley Cup, clinching postseason berths in 36 out of their 46 years of existence.
"Wendell Young and the Chicago Wolves introduced us to Kevin McDonald and the St Louis Blues and upon introduction we realized our organizations had similar values," said Bootland. “By having an affiliation based entirely in the Midwest, the Blues will be able to keep a close eye on their prospects.”
Despite never having an affiliation agreement in the past, the K-Wings and Blues are already interwoven. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock coached the K-Wings for three seasons from 1993-96. K-Wings equipment manager Eric Bechtol was the assistant equipment manager with the Blues for nine seasons (1996-2004). There are even connections in the front office, as Blues ticket representative Tim Thurber worked for the K-Wings from 2007-2010 before heading to St. Louis.
“The St. Louis Blues are excited to begin a new development agreement with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said St. Louis Blues Assistant General Manager, Kevin McDonald. “Nick Bootland and the Wings have had a great deal of success developing players with our AHL affiliate in Chicago, and we are proud to be joining them as we strive to develop future St. Louis Blues players.”
Established in 1967, the Blues were part of a six-team expansion in the NHL that included the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
Entering their 20th season, the 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.
“We are pleased to renew our relationship with the Kalamazoo Wings,” said Chicago Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “We are looking forward to our players continuing to learn and develop under Kalamazoo head coach Nick Bootland”
Last season with a record of 37-30-5-4 (83 points) the Wolves finished fourth in the Midwest Division.
In its team history, the K-Wings have had an NHL affiliation on 11 occasions and currently are in their second term with Vancouver and first with St. Louis. 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) and St. Louis Blues (2013-present).
Season and flexi-plan tickets for the upcoming 40th Anniversary 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 K-Wings 40th Anniversary season will commence on Saturday, October 19th at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana against the Evansville IceMen. Kalamazoo will begin the home portion of their schedule a week later. On Saturday, October 26th the K-Wings and IceMen will face-off at Wings Stadium for Kalamazoo’s home opener, during the 10th Annual Orange Ice Game. Fans are encouraged to dress in costumes and participate in Halloween festivities.
For more information regarding the K-Wings affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues, please contact Mike Modugno, director of public relations and broadcaster at (269) 226-0384.