The Colorado Eagles are jumping from the Central Hockey League to the ECHL for the 2011-2012 season, dealing another blow to the beleaguered circuit; meanwhile, the owners of the Victoria Salmon Kings bought the assets of the Chilliwack Bruins and will field a Victoria team in that league.
The Eagles were perennially one of the top draws in the CHL; this year the team averaged 5,289 fans a game — selling out Budweiser Events Center for every game in team history. In fact, the teamâ€™s 311 consecutive sellouts is an all-time record for minor league professional hockey.
â€œWe are pleased to welcome the Colorado Eagles to the ECHL,â€ said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. â€œThe Eagles strong fan support, community involvement and history of on-ice success make them an excellent addition to our Western Conference. Team ownership and management have built an exceptional brand and business organization over the past decade. We are proud to have them as the newest Member of the ECHL.â€
â€œWe’ve enjoyed our time and many successes in the Central Hockey League,â€ said Eagles President Chris Stewart. â€œIn fact, they’re the impetus that’s allowed us to be granted a spot in the ECHL. The Central Hockey League has helped us form the strong foundation that is allowing us to take this next step as an organization.
â€œWith that being said, this move is something we believe we’re ready to make as an organization,â€ continued Stewart. â€œWe’re energized by the challenges that the ECHL will present, and are confident we’ll be able to continue to be successful at the higher level.â€
With the addition of Colorado and the Chicago Express, who were announced as an expansion membership last summer, the ECHL will play with 20 teams in 2011-12, an increase from 19 in the 2010-11 season.
Leaving the ECHL: the Victoria Salmon Kings, as the team’s ownership, RG Properties, decided to pull the plug on ECHL play after seven seasons. There will still be hockey at Save on Foods Memorial Centre, however: RG purchased the assets of the WHL‘s Chilliwack Bruins and will run a WHL team out of the arena.
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