Earlier in the offseason we learned that the Washington Capitals and AHL Hersey Bears would be parting ways with their ECHL affiliate Reading Royals.
The Reading Royals would be joining the Philadelphia Flyers as their ECHL affiliated team. There was a question as to whether or not the Bears and Royals would stay affiliated with each other, but that likelihood was probably unlikely when we looked at it back in May.
What we didn’t know was that there were discussions of whether or not the Washington Capitals would have been jointly connected to the Royals with the Flyers. Up until the announcement of the affiliation with the Flyers it was a last minute decision by the Capitals to drop joint affiliation.
“We tried to do a dual thing with both Washington and Philly,” said Courville, Reading’s head coach and director of hockey operations. “Unfortunately, it fell apart at the last minute because of certain needs that Washington needed”.
“We had an agreement in place with both teams until the day before [the May 30 Flyers affiliation announcement]. The Flyers changed their needs and that didn’t suit Washington’s needs. So at the last minute, it kind of fell apart.”
Leave it to the Flyers to screw things up. Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan, were pushing player development as one of the major changes to the organizations priorities, and losing an affiliate hurts that development.
Reading is now hoping that the Flyers AHL affiliate, the LeHigh Valley Phantoms, which offer a close proximity to send players up and down, will hold up their end of the deal and look to send more players to the ECHL team during their time under the flyers organization.
The Washington Capitals and Hersey Bears rejoin the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays as their minor league affiliate. The Stingrays were part of the Capitals organization from 2004-2012 in the same capacity so the familiarity of each other is definitely one that doesn’t need to be learned.
I don’t know how well it would have worked to have joint affiliation with another NHL team, but I think it was a smart move for the Capitals to move on and work with an ECHL affiliate that is all their own.