The Colorado Eagles are joining the AHL, as the club announced that it will begin play in the league effective the 2018-19 season. With that move, the Eagles will become the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche under a 10-year affiliation deal.
Since the AHL announced this year that it expand to 31 teams beginning with the 2018-19 season, it has been reported that the Eagles could end up joining the league. The club has been the Avalanche’s affiliate in the ECHL, with the San Antonio Rampage serving as the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate. The Rampage, beginning with the 2018-19 season, will become an affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.
On Tuesday, the ECHL confirmed that it had accepted the Eagles’ request to withdraw from the league at the end of the 2017-18 Season. The ECHL also stated that the effort is “underway by Colorado to relocate the ECHL Membership for play in the ECHL in 2018-19 and beyond.”
“This jump to the finest league in minor league sports is the culmination of what has been a tremendous amount of hard work and cooperation between these two great organizations,” said Eagles president and general manager Chris Stewart in a statement. “Since the Colorado Eagles were founded fifteen years ago, this team has captured three championships in two different leagues, appeared in the league finals on six separate occasions and given back nearly two million dollars to local charities. It has been a unifying force in the area and has been driven to success by the passion and support of our fans,” Stewart added. “This move will now allow us to take an even bigger step, on a bigger stage, while bringing some of the brightest young stars into our own backyard.”
The proximity between the Eagles and the Avalanche is viewed as a major plus that comes from this decision, as the two clubs will play within a close distance. The Eagles play their home games at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, north of the Avalanche’s home in Denver.
“I have always felt Northern Colorado is exceptional and the opportunity to acquire this AHL franchise puts the very pinnacle of exceptionalism solidly in the Budweiser Events Center,” said Eagles CEO Martin Lind in a statement. “The incredible relationship with Joe Sakic, Craig Billington and the great Avalanche organization created this opportunity, but it was our fan base that gave us the confidence to seize it. The Colorado Eagles will now be firmly concreted into the greatest minor league in all of sports and we expect to become model operators and continue our tradition of winning excellence in this league.”
“We are thrilled to begin this partnership with the Eagles franchise,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic in a statement. “The Eagles are a first-class organization with a history of winning and we would like to thank (Eagles CEO) Martin Lind and his entire staff for all their hard work on this. We are excited that Avalanche fans can now see our top prospects competing and developing in an outstanding environment just up the road.”