Rockford, Ill.- Chicago Blackhawks General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard announced Wednesday that the Rockford IceHogs, proud members of the American Hockey League, have signed an affiliation agreement with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL for the 2009-10 season.
Toledo will serve as the primary ECHL developmental affiliate for the IceHogs and National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks.
“Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs are thrilled about entering into this affiliation agreement with the Toledo Walleye as Toledo has a long rich hockey history and we are sure that the Walleye will add to that in their inaugural season,” Bernard said. “Our young prospects will not only get to play in a brand new state-of-the-art facility, but also get coached by one of the best coaches in the ECHL, Nick Vitucci. Nick has always been a winner whether it was as a player or now as a coach and we know he will instill these qualities into our young Blackhawks prospects.”
Toledo will open their inaugural season on Oct. 16 at the new Lucas County Multi-Purpose Arena. The city of Toledo has been without professional hockey since the ECHL’s Toledo Storm voluntarily suspended operations following the 2006-07 campaign to build 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.
“Toledo is a blue-collar town that demands the best out of their athletes night in and night out and it will be a terrific environment for these young players to learn in as they aspire to make it to the NHL,” said Bernard, who appeared in 56 games with the Storm as a goaltender during the 2000-01 season. “Joe Napoli and Nick Vitucci will run a first-class organization and that’s the reason we chose to come back to Toledo. We look forward to making this a relationship that extends past this first year.”
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 2010 in af2.
In addition to the organization’s new partnership with Toledo, the 2009-10 season will mark the third year of a ten-year affiliation agreement between Rockford and the Blackhawks.
Season Ticket Are On Sale: Find a 2009-10 ticket package that works for you, call (815) 847-6399 to speak with an IceHogs season ticket representative. Packages range from five game packages up to full season Arena Club season tickets.