Wings, Canucks Extend Partnership
KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Wings announced Friday that the team has signed a two-year extension to the affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks and American Hockey League's Utica Comets, beginning in the 2019-20 season. The extension marks the first time Kalamazoo has ever signed a multi-year affiliation agreement with an NHL team in the K-Wings 46-year history.
"We're thrilled to extend our affiliation with the Canucks and Comets," said K-Wings Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Nick Bootland. "The relationship with Vancouver and Utica has been great. We're looking forward to continuing to help develop their prospects, while bolstering our lineup. It's exciting to continue to partner with an organization that values and supports the development of its players and the culture that we've established in Kalamazoo."
The upcoming season will be the third since the two teams renewed their affiliation prior to the 2017-18 season, and 11th season overall that the K-Wings and Canucks have partnered (1984-87, 2011-15, 2017-present).
"We are excited to continue our partnership with the Kalamazoo Wings as our ECHL affiliate," said Canucks General Manager Jim Benning. "Kalamazoo is an established hockey city and provides a great environment for our prospects to further develop their game."
"It's been an excellent partnership and relationship," said Ryan Johnson, Comets General Manager and Director of Player Development for the Canucks. "Coach Bootland runs an air-tight organization that shares the same culture and values we believe in."
Since the K-Wings renewed their affiliation with the Canucks and Comets prior to the 2017-18 season, ten different players have played for both Kalamazoo and Utica. Additionally, five other K-Wings attended training camp with the Comets last season.
"We look at it as a three-tiered culture from Vancouver, Utica, and Kalamazoo," said Johnson. "It's important for us to have a place that shares the same expectations for the players to carry themselves in a professional manner. When we're recruiting players, it is important that they fit the standard that we expect from Vancouver to Kalamazoo."
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; 2011-2015, 2017-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), Columbus Blue Jackets (2014-2016), Tampa Bay (2016-17).
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