The Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) and Vancouver Canucks have inked a two-year extension of their affiliation, carrying it through the 2020-21 season.
“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.”
“I am proud of the relationship we have built with the Kalamazoo Wings and head coach Nick Bootland and I, along with the rest of our organization, look forward to building on that foundation,” said Utica Comets president Robert Esche. “It is of the upmost importance that we continue to work together to build a synergistic path of growth from the ECHL to the AHL and up to the NHL in Vancouver.”
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 Wings and Canucks have been in partnership (1984-87, 2011-15, 2017-present).
Since the K-Wings renewed their affiliation with the Canucks and Utica Comets (AHL) 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’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 Wings originally played in the International Hockey League (IHL) from 1974 through 1999 before joining the United Hockey League (UHL) from 2000 to 2006. The K-Wings entered the newly re-established IHL from 2007 to 2009 before joining the ECHL to start the 2009-10 season.
This season, Kalamazoo will compete in the Central Division of the Western Conference in the ECHL, which features the Wings, as well as the Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Toledo Walleye, and Wheeling Nailers.
The K-Wings were ECHL North Division champions in 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2013-14 and Western Conference champions in 2010-11.