ONTARIO, Calif. - The Ontario Reign, four-time ECHL Pacific Division Champions and proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets, have announced today that the American Hockey League Board of Governors has approved the relocation of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs franchise to Ontario to begin play in the 2015-16 season.
The Ontario Reign name will remain the same as they enter into a multi-year affiliation agreement with the LA Kings and become the primary training ground for Kings prospects. The partnership will unite the hockey communities of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, providing the opportunity for marketing and operational synergy between the two professional hockey teams. Ontario will play host to the highest caliber of hockey that it has seen since it was introduced to the sport at a professional level in 1958 with the Ontario Canucks of the California Hockey League.
"I am extremely excited to see AHL hockey come to Ontario," said outgoing President Justin Kemp. "The city of Ontario has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and with that comes expectations of a higher level of professional sports, especially when it comes to hockey. Fans will now have the ability to watch a player in Ontario one night with the Reign and in Los Angeles with the Kings the following evening. Over the past several seasons, hockey has become an important part of the sports landscape in the Inland Empire, and the Reign will continue to be the best family sports entertainment value in the region."
In accordance with this news, current Monarchs President Darren Abbott will assume the same duties for the Reign organization, effective immediately.
"I am thrilled to be a part of this truly historic shift that is taking place," Abbott said. "I look forward to the opportunity to get to know the Reign fans, as their loyalty and enthusiasm have helped create one of the most passionate environments in all of minor league hockey. They are proof that hockey is alive and thriving in southern California, and I am excited for the new challenges that await this organization as it enters the next frontier in the AHL."
The agreement provides advantages both on and off the ice for the Kings organization, such as savings on travel, cross-promotion and marketability of players as they develop into future NHL stars while playing in the top developmental hockey league in North America.
“From the business end, we believe both organizations – the Ontario Reign and the LA Kings – will work very well together to create a great, fan-friendly experience that fans, both new to the club and those who have proudly supported the club over the years, will enjoy immensely,” said Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille. “On the hockey side, it will be tremendous to see the talent on the ice as they make strides in their professional career. In a lot of ways, when you are at the American Hockey League level, you are a phone call away to the NHL, plus the proximity of Ontario to STAPLES Center will be a great benefit to our players as we continue to help their development. As our motto says – We Are All Kings – and this is the perfect example of that and a true win-win for everyone involved.”