Another ECHL team has found a new parent club. The Rapid City Rush will become the ECHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes it was announced earlier this week.
The Rush are the second ECHL club to get a new affiliate this week after the Gwinnett Gladiators joined the Boston Bruins organization. The Tulsa Oilers also recently became the affiliate for the Winnipeg Jets.
This is the second affiliate switch for the Coyotes this off season after they added the Springfield Falcons as the American Hockey League club. They had previously worked with the Portland Pirates, but a shakeup between Springfield, Portland, San Antonio, Erie, and their NHL parent clubs resulted in the switch.
“This is a very important day for the Rapid City Rush organization,” Rush general manager and coach Joe Ferras said to the Rapid City Journal. “We are thrilled to be entering into an affiliation agreement with two first-class organizations in the Arizona Coyotes and Springfield Falcons. The ECHL is a very important part in the development of players for both NHL and AHL teams.”
The Gladiators had been the affiliate of the Coyotes before their deal ran up and the Bruins chose to work with the Georgia team. The Bruins had been sharing the South Carolina Stingrays with the Washington Capitals, so it was time for them to have an affiliate of their own.
The loss of the Gladiators meant the Coyotes were able to add a different team of their choice. the Rush have not had an NHL affiliation and in fact were the only playoff team in 2014-2015 who did not have an affiliation.
“We have X amount of spots in Springfield,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said in the same Rapid City Journal article. “We want our young players playing. Rather than keeping two or three young players in the stands in Springfield, we’d much rather have them play in Rapid City.”
“They’ve been able to build a winning culture here, Joe runs a real good program and is very well-respected around this league,” he said. “It just made a lot of sense to us.”