DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings and ECHL's Toledo Walleye today announced a three-year extension of their affiliation agreement. The 2018-19 season will mark the ninth year of partnership between the clubs and extends the affiliation through at least the 2020-21 season.
Since affiliating with the Red Wings and American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins, the Walleye have consistently ranked among the ECHL's most successful franchises. Toledo has captured four-straight division championships and has posted the league's best record over that span, combining for a regular-season mark of 198-69-12-9. They reached the ECHL's conference finals in 2015 and 2017, and most recently advanced to the second round of the 2018 ECHL Playoffs before falling to the Fort Wayne Komets in six games. Off the ice, Toledo has been just as successful, winning the ECHL Award of Excellence in each of the last four seasons and in six of the last nine, awarded to the organization with the most well-rounded business plan and presence in their community. In 2017-18, Toledo sold out 28 of its 36 home games to rank second in the league in attendance.
"The Walleye have proven to be an ideal affiliate for nearly a decade, and their recent record of on- and off-ice success speaks for itself," said Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin. "Toledo plays a critical role in the development of our prospects, and offers top-notch facilities, an excellent staff on the hockey and business side, a fanbase that continually fills the arena and provides an energetic atmosphere, and a commitment to contending for championships that makes it one of the most successful markets in all of minor-league sports. We're excited to extend this relationship to aid the development of future Red Wings and Griffins, and continue the Walleye's winning culture in an effort to bring an ECHL championship back to the city of Toledo."
Under the current affiliation, the Red Wings provide several NHL-contract players to the Walleye, as well as signing players to AHL/ECHL contracts who can play for either Grand Rapids or Toledo. Since 2009-10, 16 players who have skated for Toledo have gone on to play in at least one NHL game, including eight for the Red Wings: Jared Coreau, Martin Frk, Luke Glendening, Nick Jensen, Brian Lashoff, Tom McCollum, Petr Mrazek and Andrej Nestrasil.
"The relationship between Detroit, Grand Rapids and Toledo is one of the strongest in professional hockey, and we look forward to its continued growth over the next three years," said Toledo Walleye general manager Neil Neukam. "As we celebrate our 10th season of Walleye hockey, we are honored to have an affiliate who has entrusted us in the development of their future players, but also cares about the growth and winning aspect of our team."
Detroit was previously affiliated with the ECHL's Toledo Storm from 1991-99 and 2000-07, prior to re-entering the league as the Walleye in 2009-10. The Storm won ECHL championships in 1993 and 1994 and captured six division titles over their 16-season history.