Friday, July 21, 2006

The Vancouver-Victoria Connection

From the official Manitoba Moose site:

In a joint announcement today, the Manitoba Moose and Vancouver Canucks announced a new developmental affiliation agreement with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. The agreement is a one-year contract that will see the Moose and Salmon Kings work together for the first time in order to develop players within the Canucks organization.

“We are pleased to enter into a new partnership with the Victoria Salmon Kings,” said Moose General Manger Craig Heisinger. “In the past, we have been very successful at developing players at the ECHL level, such as Jesse Schultz and Alexandre Burrows, among others. We are confident this will continue in the future with the Salmon Kings.”

The Salmon Kings finished the 2005-06 season with a 26-37-9 record, good for fifth in the West Division. On June 8, 2006, Victoria hired Tony MacAulay as the second head coach in the franchise’s short three-year history in the ECHL. MacAulay finished the 2005-2006 season as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations of the Trenton Titans (ECHL), where he helped the defending Kelly Cup Champions reach the American Conference playoffs.

Victoria Vice-President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, Dan Belisle, is a veteran of establishing partnerships between professional hockey leagues. In 2004-05, Belisle established the first NHL affiliation in Boardwalk Bullies (ECHL) history, when they partnered with the NHL’s New York Islanders and the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Prior to that, while at the helm for the New Orleans Brass (ECHL), Belisle secured affiliations with the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators. In addition, while with New Orleans, Belisle worked with the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers.

“This is a historical day for the Victoria Salmon Kings. We are very excited about the opportunity of working with these two prestigious teams and helping to develop talent for their clubs,” said Belisle.

Since 2002-03, the Moose had been affiliated with the Columbia Inferno. In the four seasons the two organizations were formally affiliated, the Inferno compiled a record of 154-104-30.
As can be expected, the Salmon Kings are thrilled with this new affiliation, one that gives the ECHL team some instant credibility. In a market that is only a ferry ride away from Vancouver and boasts more Canucks fans than Salmon Kings fans, it also gives the ECHL team plenty of cross-marketing opportunities.

But the bigger impact may be on the ice.

For Victoria, it makes the player recruitment process that much easier. Instead of coming to play for a team that lacks a track record, the Salmon Kings offer the opportunity of advancement within the umbrella of a pretty decent organization. Look for younger and higher-skilled players to wear the mighty fish uniforms this season. Look for players and management to have more incentive to perform -- and make the playoffs.

And you Western Hockey League fans should appreciate the fact that this is a new breed of Salmon King and that some of the players we see on the ice here may actually find their way to the big pond that is the NHL.
And now, the big pond is less than two hours away.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:54 PM


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