The Colorado Eagles‘ ECHL run has come to a close, as the organization is preparing for its first season in the American Hockey League (AHL).
In a move that expands the AHL to 31 clubs–matching the total of the NHL–the Eagles announced last fall that they would join the league beginning with the 2018-19 season. The Eagles will continue playing at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland while becoming the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, taking over that role from the San Antonio Rampage.
The move to the AHL has been an anticipated development for the Eagles, but their departure from the ECHL came in grand fashion. The club capped the 2017-18 ECHL season by capturing its second consecutive Kelly Cup, an achievement that was celebrated during an open house at Budweiser Events Center earlier this week. With that milestone, many from the Eagles–including president/general manager Chris Stewart–were able to celebrate the club’s ECHL success while looking ahead to the changes that will come with its shift to the AHL. More from the Reporter-Herald:
The Avalanche will determine most of the roster, not Stewart and his support staff. While he will still remain as the president and general manager, he knows his days of putting together the team are done.
While the move forward is exciting, he’ll cherish the past two seasons and what he helped create for the final time.
“From a nostalgia standpoint and from a personal standpoint, it’s hard sometimes,” he said. “It’s an arrow through the heart, but you know it’s the right thing, a good thing, but it’s always a tough thing.
“That will no longer be my place, to say who stays and who goes. That’s outside of my touch now. This does feel special.”
Beginning with the 2018-19 season, the Eagles will compete in the AHL Western Conference’s Pacific Division. For more on the Eagles’ upcoming change in leagues, see this Arena Digest story from Jeff Goldberg that was published last month.