Monarchs Preparing For Life in ECHL


The Manchester Monarchs are defending champions. Except, they’ll never have a chance to defend it against their former American Hockey League peers.

The Monarchs, who took home the Calder Cup as the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate, faced a unique relegation going into 2015-2016. Instead of having a chance to defend their title, they will go to the ECHL as the roster of the former Ontario Reign.

The AHL added five west coast teams for their NHL clubs in California and Western Canada. One of those casualties was the Monarchs, who swap rosters with the former ECHL Ontario.

That creates a different kind of off season for a team whose city has seen just one championship come through.

The Monarchs are already getting set for their fresh start as they’ve signed their first four players for their roster. They are bringing back four key pieces from the Ontario roster. Dennis Brown, Matt White, Gasper Kopitar and Troy Power will all return to the Kings organization with their new ECHL home.

“All of these guys were key individual contributors to their respective teams last season and I expect the same moving forward here in Manchester,” said head coach Richard Seeley to the Union Leader in New Hampshire. “Dennis, Matt and Gasper were influential in success of the Ontario Reign last season and Troy was a standout at UMass. I have spoken individually with each of them and they have all echoed the same sentiment and are excited to be Monarchs.” 

The Reign are going to become a contender right away in the new California based division as they acquire an AHL championship team. Meanwhile, the Monarchs merge into an ECHL club inherited from Ontario.

It’s not like Monarchs and New Hampshire hockey fans will have to watch bad hockey. The Reign were a strong team in the ECHL last season, with 96 points and the third best record in the conference behind just the Allen Americans and Idaho Steelheads.

The Monarchs will continue making signings before their season begins in October. Unlike most other Calder Cup champions, they won’t have the honeymoon period where they live out the hype of their title. Instead, the Monarchs will have their first experience in the ECHL while the old Manchester roster will relocate to California where they will act as the Reign.

It’s one of the strangest off seasons for every team in pro hockey as the AHL and ECHL transition into their new futures.