The Reading Royals of the ECHL and Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League today jointly announced that they have entered into an affiliation arrangement under which the Royals will receive players designated for assignment within the professional hockey operations development system of the Flyers. This marks the first time that the Royals and Flyers have entered a formal affiliation relationship.
“We’re very excited to announce our new affiliation with the Philadelphia Flyers,” said Royals President Drew Bell. “The Royals are committed to achieving excellence in in all facets our operations, and we’re confident that by joining forces with the Flyers and the Phantoms of the AHL we’re taking a significant positive step in that direction. We see this as a perfect fit for our team, as both organizations have a proven track record of winning and are supported by legendarily passionate fans. We look forward to teaming up with what is unquestionably the region’s premier hockey organization as we all work towards strengthening and growing interest in and support for professional hockey in Southeast Pennsylvania.”
“We are pleased to announce an ECHL affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals,” said Flyers’ general manager Ron Hextall. “We’re excited to be entering a new era for the Flyers with respect to player development and look forward to working closely with them in a winning environment. The geographic proximity of our minor league affiliations in the Lehigh Valley and Reading will give our coaches and scouting department the best possible platform to monitor, and promote the growth and advancement of our young prospects.”
“I’m looking forward to working with the Flyers coaching and scouting staffs,” said Royals’ Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Larry Courville. “Our goal in Reading has not changed—to put a championship team on the ice. A big part of our success is linked to having an affiliate who is committed to stocking their minor professional system with young, talented players and getting these players as much game time as possible in the early phases of their career. Of course, I’m sure our fans will enjoy watching the Flyers’ prospects assigned to Reading as they pursue their goal of advancing to the highest level of the game, while helping us achieve our team goal of winning another ECHL championship.”
The Flyers American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, is slated to kick off the team’s first season in Allentown, Pennsylvania, this fall. It is expected that the Royals will work closely with the Phantoms with respect to player movement within the Flyers’ minor professional development system. A number of players currently on the Flyers’ roster are products of that system, including goaltender Cal Heeter and forward Jason Akeson, both of whom played for the Trenton Titans of the ECHL in 2012-13.
The Royals, who are entering the team’s fourteenth season in Reading, have qualified for the post-season nine times, including the last five consecutively. The Royals, who won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship in 2013, tied a team record with forty-six regular season wins this past season to claim the team’s second consecutive Eastern Conference regular season title. Although the Royals have never been formally affiliated with the Flyers, the team did receive two contracted players from Philadelphia on assignment in 2013-14, goaltender Carsen Chubak and forward Doug Clarkson.
From the Royals’ inception in 2001 through 2008, the team was primarily affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. From 2008-09 through 2011-12, the Royals were affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and, beginning in 2009-10, the Royals added a secondary affiliation with the Boston Bruins of the NHL. The past two seasons the Royals have been affiliated with the Washington Capitals of the NHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL.