Utah Grizzlies Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Jason Christie announced today at a press conference that the team has signed an affiliation agreement with the Islanders. Utah will also serve as an affiliate for the Islanders' AHL team in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
"The Utah Grizzlies are one of the top franchises in minor pro hockey," said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. "The Islanders and Grizzlies have made a great pair in the past and I'm sure we will be again. The Utah community is outstanding and the facilities are top-tier. We're looking forward to working with Jason Christie and the rest of his staff."
"We are excited to team up with a first-class organization in the Islanders as well as their American Hockey League affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers," said Christie. "It will be beneficial to our organization to once again have an affiliation. We will look to develop players for the next level in a winning environment."
The Islanders finished this past season 40-30-12 as they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
"Garth made some key acquisitions this past season to get New York back to the playoffs," said Christie. "The organization is committed to developing top notch players through their minor league system as well."
The Grizzlies have been unaffiliated since joining the ECHL in 2005. Previously, in the AHL, Utah served as an affiliate for the Phoenix Coyotes (2004-2005) and the Dallas Stars (2000-2004).
"Having a strong ECHL affiliate is imperative to building the Islanders future. We believe the Utah Grizzlies provide the necessary resources to develop our prospects," Sound Tigers President Howard Saffan said. "The Grizzlies are a very well respected organization that will provide the stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup."
This will mark the second time that the Grizzlies have been affiliated with the Islanders. Utah qualified for the playoffs four times, won two IHL Turner Cup Championships and had an overall record of 196-107-24 for a .636 winning percentage from 1994-1998 during four seasons as an Islanders affiliate.
The Grizzlies open the 2007-2008 season Friday, October 19 when they visit the Phoenix RoadRunners at US Airways Center in Downtown Phoenix. The home opener for the Grizzlies is Friday, October 26 when they welcome Idaho to the E-Center.
The Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL enter their third season in America's "Premier AA Hockey League." There were 23 former Utah Grizzlies players on NHL rosters at the start of the 2006-2007 season. The Grizzlies are owned and operated by the Elmore Sports Group and play at the E-Center of West Valley City, which hosted hockey during the 2002 Winter Olympics.