(RAPID CITY, SD) – For the first time in the history of the Rapid City Rush organization, the club featuring the Boys from the Black Hills can now refer to itself as a proud ECHL affiliate. The Rush announced today that they are now the proud ECHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League.
“This is a very important day for the Rapid City Rush organization,” said Joe Ferras, Head Coach and GM of the Rush. “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. Our fans will see a younger team with (NHL) prospects that will graduate to the American Hockey League and hopefully play at the NHL level.”
Beginning operation in 1972 in the WHA, the Coyotes were the original incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. The then-Jets joined the NHL just 7 years later as part of the NHL/WHA merger, and remained a part of the league in Manitoba until 1996, when the team moved to Phoenix, AZ, to become the Phoenix Coyotes. Since moving to Arizona 20 years ago, the Coyotes have enjoyed 8 playoff appearances as a franchise, including their first ever Pacific Division Championship in the 2011-12 season, advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals in that playoff run, only to fall short to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. After 17 seasons of being referred to as the Phoenix Coyotes, the franchise rebranded to their most recent name, the Arizona Coyotes, to reflect their mission to represent and commit to all loyal hockey fans in the state of Arizona.
The Coyotes are led by Head Coach Dave Tippett on the bench, entering his seventh season in that role, and Captain Shane Doan on the on the ice, wearing the “C” on his chest for 12 consecutive seasons. Off the ice, the franchise is operated by General Manager Don Maloney, who spent parts of 11 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers as a player, and concluded his playing days with the Hartford Whalers and the New York Islanders. Prior to coming to Coyotes in 2007, he served as the GM of the New York Islanders for three seasons, before returning the Rangers as Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant GM to Glen Sather from 1996-2007. In 2010, Maloney was the first person to be named NHL General Manager of the Year.
“We are excited to partner with the Rapid City Rush as our new ECHL affiliate,” said Don Maloney, GM of the Arizona Coyotes. “The Rush is a first class organization with a very passionate fan base. We are looking forward to a great partnership.” When asked about what led the Coyotes to make their decision on coming to the Black Hills, Maloney continued: “Quite frankly, it came down to coaching. When we did our research on different ECHL teams, it came back to coaching and development for our players. Joe’s reputation is outstanding, as is the reputation of the franchise. This team is by far the best pick for us.”
The Arizona Coyotes are affiliated with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, and enter their first year as affiliated partner clubs. The Falcons are located in Springfield, MA, where the AHL league offices are located, and have been in operation in the AHL since 1994. Since their inception, the Falcons have been crowned Division Champions four different times in the North, New England, and most recently the Northeast Division, including two in the last three years, winning back-to-back years in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
The Coyotes begin their 2015-16 campaign on Friday, October 9th, in Los Angeles against the Kings, and the Falcons start their season on October 11th against the Syracuse Crunch. The Rush will begin their eighth season of operation, and first as an ECHL affiliate to an NHL club on October 16th, opening on the road against their newest division rivals: the Idaho Steelheads. Season tickets are on sale now for as low as $10 per game, and tickets for the October 23rd home-opener against their archrivals, the Colorado Eagles, are on sale as well. For more information, call 716-PUCK.
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