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Chiefs Join Forces With Columbus, Syracuse

August 22, 2008 - ECHL (ECHL) Johnstown Chiefs

Johnstown, Pa. - The Johnstown Chiefs announced today that the team has entered into an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. For the 2008-09 season, the Chiefs will serve as Columbus' secondary minor league affiliate. The Syracuse Crunch of the AHL will be the Blue Jackets' primary partner.

"We are extremely happy to be working with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Syracuse Crunch because, as an organization, they believe in developing their prospects the right way, and that's what we strive for here," said Chiefs coach Ian Herbers.

"One thing also makes it an attractive partnership is the two ECHL teams that Columbus and Syracuse worked with last had great success. Elmira finished second in the division last year and was one game away from the division finals, and the year before that Dayton made it to the Kelly Cup Finals. Our fans should be thrilled to bet getting these guys into Chiefs jerseys because they are proven winners," added Herbers.

The Blue Jackets and Crunch join the Colorado Avalanche and Lake Erie Monsters as affiliates of the Chiefs. The 2008-09 season will be the second year in a row that the Chiefs operate with multiple affiliates after working with the Boston, and Providence, Bruins along with Colorado and Lake Erie in 2007-08. The Chiefs will no longer be the Bruins' ECHL affiliate. Prior to the 2007-08 season, the Chiefs had been affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning for three seasons, and in their 21-year history have also had NHL affiliations with New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Calgary, and San Jose.

"We are very excited to be partnering with the Chiefs this year.Developing players is crucial to the long term success of any team and we feel Johnstown will be a positive place for our young players to learn the game and gain professional experience," said Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland.

Heading into their eighth season of competition in the NHL, the Blue Jackets, led by superstar Rick Nash, are one of the up-and-coming clubs in the Western Conference. Columbus features a system committed to youth, and chocked full of talent. The average age of the players currently listed in the Blue Jackets' organization is 23 years old, and only three players are 30 or older. Some of those exciting young players include top-ten draft selections Derick Brassard (C, 6th overall, 2006), Rostislav Klesla (D, 4th overall, 2000), Pascal Leclaire (G, 8th overall 2001), Nash (LW, 1st overall, 2002), and Alexandre Picard (LW, 8th overall, 2004).

Even though they are new affiliates, the Chiefs' and Blue Jackets' ties do go back a few years. Former Chiefs Jody Shelley (2000-01) and Derrick Walser (2001-02) began their NHL careers with the Blue Jackets. That pair combined to play in 471 games, score 19 goals and 39 assists, as well as compile 1,081 penalty minutes (1,025 of which belonged to Shelley).

The Syracuse Crunch will provide the Chiefs with another very strong partner in the AHL for the upcoming season. While the Chiefs record (25-12-5) over the final months of the 2007-08 season was impressive, the Crunch's success was dumbfounding. Syracuse was unbeaten in its final 10 games, and 20-0-3 to close out the regular season.

Last season the Crunch, and Blue Jackets, were affiliated with the Chiefs' division rival Elmira Jackals. The players that Columbus and Syracuse provided to Elmira helped the expansion Jackals to a 41-win season and a second place finish in the North Division. Players that spent time in Syracuse and Elmira last year included: goalie Dan LaCosta, Kyle Wharton, Bobby Robins, and former Chief Maxime Boisclair

Mark your calendars! The Chiefs kick off their 2008-09 home schedule on Saturday, October 18 against their archrivals, the Wheeling Nailers at 7:05 PM. You won't want to miss a minute of the action! Full Season, Mini, and Total Choice Flex ticket packages are all available now. We have a ticket plan that's right for everyone so reserve yours today by calling 814-539-1799 or 1-800-SLAPSHOT.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.