August 17, 2011 - ECHL (ECHL) - Atlanta Gladiators
The Gwinnett Gladiators have signed an affiliation agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League for the 2011-12 season. The Coyotes also maintain an NHL affiliation with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.
"We are glad to announce our affiliation with the Gladiators," said Brad Treliving, Vice President of Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager of the Phoenix Coyotes. "They have consistently proven to be an elite organization within the ECHL and we look forward to having our young prospects continue their development in Gwinnett".
The Gladiators have fielded 156 call-ups that have involved 112 players over the first eight seasons the team has been based in Gwinnett County, Georgia, encompassing the northeastern suburban communities of Atlanta. The Gladiators have had at least 22 player call-ups to the American Hockey League in each of the past four seasons. During the 2009-10 season, Gwinnett saw a record 28 call-ups to the AHL, while the 23 call-ups last season were the second most in team history.
"I think that there were really two key factors that made this affiliation a natural fit," Gladiators President Steve Chapman said. "The first is a common commitment to player development. The Phoenix Coyotes organization is committed to developing players through their system."
"The second factor is simply respect. Brad Treliving and I have known each other for a long time. Ray Edwards (head coach, Portland Pirates) was a long-time ECHL player and coach that I have known for years. They both spent considerable time in the ECHL and have a similar background in minor league coaching and administration. They have quality reputations and they have a solid understanding of our place and our importance in this relationship and they value it. We are looking forward to working with them and the other members and coaches of the Coyotes organization, as well as the Portland Pirates, as we seek to develop quality players and quality men."
Phoenix becomes the fourth NHL organization that the Gladiators have had an affiliation agreement with to develop prospects of an NHL team. Gwinnett served as the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers for eight seasons from the Gladiators inaugural 2003-04 season until the 2010-2011 season before the Thrashers organization was sold and relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba for the start of the 2011-12 season. Gwinnett has also had dual affiliates with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2008-09 season and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009-2010 season in addition to the Thrashers in those respective seasons.
The Gladiators are the ECHL Affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and are members of the ECHL, the Premier "AA" Hockey League and play all home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.