Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018 | 11:59 a.m.
The Vegas Golden Knights have entered an agreement to make the Fort Wayne Komets their ECHL affiliate for the upcoming season.
Last year’s affiliate — the Quad City Mallards — ceased operations after 23 seasons, so the Golden Knights were left to find a new ECHL team and landed in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“ECHL clubs play an important role in player development,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said in a news release. “Our young players and prospects will have the opportunity to grow and improve in both Fort Wayne at the ECHL level and then in Chicago at the American Hockey League level.”
The Komets were founded as a member of the original International Hockey League in 1952 and played in the IHL until 1990.
From there, the team moved to the ECHL and has 12 regular season titles, seven Turner Cups (1963, 1965, 1973, 1993, 2008, 2009, 2010) and one Ray Miron President’s Cup (2012).
In all of North American professional hockey, the only teams with longer continuous tenancies than the Komets are the Original Six teams of the NHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
Last season, Fort Wayne served as the ECHL affiliate for the Arizona Coyotes. Before that, it was affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche for two years.
Last season, the Komets finished with a record of 46-20-5-1, which is their fourth-straight season with at least 40 wins. They finished second in their division and fell to the Colorado Eagles in the semifinals.
Most importantly, the team’s location benefits the Golden Knights greatly, as Fort Wayne is only an hour plane ride from Chicago, with plenty of nonstop flights every day. That means players can be easily sent up and down from the AHL and ECHL.