The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that the team has signed an affiliation agreement with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, the leading professional development league for the American Hockey League and National Hockey League.
“We are proud to have Toledo as our brand new ECHL affiliate,” Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said. “Our organization is full of talented young prospects, many of which will now have the opportunity to develop their skills in a winning environment with the Walleye. We are excited to have these players work with Nick Vitucci and his tremendous staff.”
The club will open their inaugural season on October 16 at the new Lucas County Downtown Arena. The city of Toledo has been without professional hockey since the ECHL’s Storm voluntarily suspended operations following the 2006-07 campaign to construct a new arena on the site of the former Toledo Sports Arena. The Blackhawks and Storm had an affiliation agreement in the team’s final season.
The Walleye franchise is owned and operated by Toledo Arena Sports, Inc, under the direction of President and General Manager Joe Napoli. The group also operates the Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club of the Triple-A International League, and the Toledo Bullfrogs arena football team, scheduled to begin play in the spring of 2010 in af2.
In addition to the organization’s new partnership with Toledo, the 2009-10 season will mark the third year of the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliation with the Rockford IceHogs.