The Tampa Bay Lightning have entered into a one-year affiliation agreement with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. Florida will serve as the Lightning’s primary ECHL affiliate starting with the 2010-11 season. Tampa Bay will provide the Everblades with players under both NHL and AHL contracts.
“We are very happy to welcome the Florida Everblades to the Lightning organization today,” Yzerman said. “The Everblades and their management have demonstrated a strong commitment to success by guiding their team to the playoffs in each of their 12 seasons in existence. That is exactly the type of winning environment we feel our players should develop in. Couple that with their proximity to Tampa and there really isn’t a better option for us. We look forward to our prospects and contracted players helping to bring the Kelly Cup to Southwest Florida.”
Based in Estero, Florida, the Everblades were founded in 1998 and already have an impressive resume of accomplishments. They have made 12 consecutive playoff appearances since joining the ECHL, becoming the first team in ECHL history to make back-to-back Kelly Cup Finals appearances in 2003-04 and 2004-05. They were awarded the Brabham Cup, given annually to the ECHL team with the best record, following the 1998-99 and 2008-09 seasons. Since beginning play they have played 430 regular season games and hosted 2,703,880 fans, an average of 6,288 per contest. The team’s colors are navy blue, white and green.
"We are extremely pleased to be affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning," Everblades President and General Manager Craig Brush said. "Steve Yzerman has very quickly assembled a top-notch organization. The Lightning will be an exciting team to watch and we look forward to helping with the development of some of their talented young players."
The Everblades play at Germain Arena in Estero. The building was built in 1998 and has a capacity of 7,180 for hockey games. The building hosted more than 300 different entertainment events, including the 2003 Compuware/ECHL All-Star Game. The team has also led the ECHL playoffs in attendance in six of their 12 seasons in the league.
Tampa Bay previously had secondary affiliations with Augusta (Georgia), Mississippi (Biloxi), Pensacola, Johnstown, Toledo, Chesapeake, Nashville and Knoxville of the ECHL. The Lightning’s top minor league affiliate remains the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.