Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Indy Fuel announce Blackhawks affiliation

The Indy Fuel -- an expansion franchise set to begin play in the ECHL in 2014-15 -- announced today an affiliation with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and AHL's Rockford IceHogs.

The agreement is set to run for five seasons and will allow the Blackhawks to assign players to Indianapolis for development, and also to evaluate Fuel players. 

Indy Fuel president Sean Hallett said in a statement, “We are honored to be joining the Blackhawks family, a truly first-class organization with which we share a common philosophy of the game, direction for the team and mutual commitment to our communities. Chicago already has a strong fan base in Indianapolis, and the Blackhawks are a winning organization with a strong emphasis on the development of up-and-coming young talent.”

“We are excited to begin this new partnership with the Indy Fuel,” Blackhawks General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard said in a statement. “The Blackhawks and the city of Indianapolis have a history of developing many players that have had successful National Hockey League careers, and we look forward to doing the same with the Fuel and our deep group of talented prospects."

The Blackhawks had shared an ECHL affiliation with the Toledo Walleye with the Detroit Red Wings, but will have an exclusive affiliation with the Fuel.

As a "AA" league, the ECHL team is the secondary affiliate of an NHL organization, with the primary affiliates in the American Hockey League. The Blackhawks' primary affiliate is the Rockford IceHogs. The number of players the Fuel will receive from Chicago varies, but ECHL teams often receive between one and five players from their NHL parent at any given time. The Blackhawks currently have one player in their system -- forward Maxim Shulanov -- on the ECHL roster. Blackhawks prospects David Gilbert, Philippe Lefebvre and Mac Carruth -- two forwards and a goaltender -- have also played in Toledo this season. The remainder of the Fuel roster will be made up of minor-league free agents and players potentially assigned from other AHL teams.

The affiliation rekindles a relationship the IHL Indianapolis Ice shared with the Blackhawks from 1989-99, when the Ice were the Blackhawks' primary affiliates. The CHL Indianapolis Ice claimed a minor/tertiary relationship with the Blackhawks in 2003-04, their final season.

“As we reignite the spirit of professional hockey in Indianapolis, there’s no better situation for us than working with the defending Stanley Cup champion, one of the ‘Original Six’ franchises,” Hallett said in the statement. “We expect the affiliation with the Blackhawks to take our fans’ excitement to another level – and because Chicago has been so successful in adding talent through the draft, we’re confident this move will help us put an exciting and competitive team on the ice for years to come.”

Indianapolis hockey minor pro team affiliations
Indy Fuel (ECHL): 2014-, Chicago Blackhawks (secondary)
Indianapolis Ice (CHL): 1999-2004, independent 1999-2003, Chicago Blackhawks (tertiary) 2003-04
Indianapolis Ice (IHL): 1988-99, independent 1988-89, Chicago Blackhawks 1989-98 (primary, full affiliation 1989-98, partial affiliation 1998-99).
Indianapolis Checkers (IHL): 1984-87: Minnesota North Stars 1984-87, New York Islanders 1984-86, Boston Bruins 1984-85, New Jersey Devils 1986-87 (all secondary)
Indianapolis Checkers (CHL): 1979-84: New York Islanders (primary)
Indianapolis Capitols/Cincinnati Wings (CPHL): 1963-64: Detroit Red Wings (secondary)
Indianapolis Chiefs (IHL): 1955-62: independent
Indianapolis Capitals (AHL): 1939-52: Detroit Red Wings (primary)

The full release on IndyFuelHockey.com

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