ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have agreed to an affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
“We are very pleased to announce our new ECHL affiliation with the Reading Royals,” said McPhee. “The Royals are a first-class organization where our prospects will be playing in an environment that will help them develop to their ultimate potential. We feel the proximity to both Washington and our AHL affiliate in Hershey will be beneficial to all three clubs. We would like to thank the South Carolina Stingrays and their fans for their support over the last eight seasons.”
The Royals finished the 2011-12 campaign with a record of 36-28-4-4 under head coach and director of hockey operations Larry Courville. Courville played 33 career NHL games with Vancouver and appeared in 49 games with the Hershey Bears in 2001-02. He finished his playing career in 2007-08 while playing for the Reading Royals. Reading has made the playoffs in six of its 11 seasons in the ECHL, finishing first in its division twice.
“This affiliation agreement kicks off a new era of Royals’ hockey,” said Royals general manager Mark Wallace. “The Capitals have a deep tradition of success and a proven track record of identifying and developing young talent. The history of success of professional hockey in Hershey is simply legendary. We look forward to working with the Capitals and Bears as we all seek to strengthen and grow our sport in Central Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake region. We believe that fans in Reading are going to have a unique opportunity to closely follow the development of prospects within this system, while being treated to an exceptional quality of play which we trust will translate into winning games in Reading.”
A number of current Capitals have spent time in the ECHL, including goaltenders Braden Holtby, an ECHL All-Star who played in South Carolina during the 2009-10 season, and Michal Neuvirth, who was named an ECHL All-Star during the 2008-09 season while with South Carolina.
The Royals, who are entering the team’s 12th season in Reading, had a previous affiliation with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings from 2001-2008. From 2008-09 through 2011-12, the Royals were affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs and, beginning in 2009-10, the Royals added a secondary affiliation with the Boston Bruins. Reading plays its home games at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa., which holds a capacity of 7,160.
Courville will be in attendance at the Capitals Prospect Development Camp which begins today and runs through Saturday, July 14, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.