We have some new news coming out of Northern Colorado. Yeah, I’m talking about the Colorado Eagles. And to think that the hockey season was over, I saw a tweet that there’d be a press conference at 2:00pm MDT on The Bear. Naturally, I was curious, and listened in. That’s when I heard the news.
The Colorado Eagles are moving to the ECHL league.
This was like … wow! I was naturally curious as to what this means. As this is settling up, they have promised more games, better teams, but same management. But what else will happen?
The ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League), is one of the two farm leagues to the NHL. The other is the AHL (American Hockey League). If you could compare these leagues like you would in baseball, the NHL is “the show”. AHL is like AAA. ECHL is AA, and the CHL (Central Hockey league), the league the Eagles just left, is like the Advanced A league. Each ECHL team serves as a farm team to the AHL and the NHL (usually to 1 or 2 teams for each league.) So there is potential to see stars on a more local level.
The Colorado Eagles have sold out each game in their 7,500 Budweiser Events Center arena since they have been in existence 8 years ago. (That comes up to 311+ sellouts). Also, the team has made the playoffs each year, and have won the President’s cup at least twice. I have been to several games, and noticed how well the fans get involved with the game, complete with the cowbells, and the chants. People do take notice of these things. So, I can see why management were invited to join the ECHL to even their number of teams at 20. It didn’t matter much that the Eagles did not win the Cup, though having stellar performance each year helped. Northern Colorado does love hockey.
Naturally, such changes always have some impact. For one, the whole team was released as unrestricted free agents in the CHL. Also, this impacts the CHL with losing at least 3 teams for next year. And, before the next season, there will need to be a new team and affiliates established to the AHL and NHL. The Avalanche do not currently have a ECHL affiliate, and it might make sense to establish one, since there is ONLY a gap of 50 miles along I-25 between the 2 teams. Being also a direct farm team, this may impact the fans a bit as players may be interchanged more often. But I believe if it is done right, the fans will still come out to support the team.
So, this is a promotion… and a good one at that. I’m happy for the Eagles. Rock on!