After eight seasons with the same East Coast Hockey League affiliation, the Capitals made a switch Monday that allows the organization to have both of its minor league partners just a short drive away.
Washington announced a new ECHL affiliation with the Reading Royals, who are located an hour east of American Hockey League partner Hershey and a little less than three hours northeast of the D.C.
“We feel the proximity to both Washington and our AHL affiliate in Hershey will be beneficial to all three clubs,” Capitals General Manager George McPhee said in a news release.
The Capitals have long praised the benefits of having the Hershey Bears close by for last-minute recalls and player assignments, and changing from the previous affiliate South Carolina Stingrays to Reading allows for the same flexibility between the AHL and ECHL level as well.
“The biggest advantage is proximity,” Hershey Coach Mark French told Post colleague Eric Detweiler at development camp. “It allows us the ability to I guess keep better track of some of our prospects down there. You remove the travel, so the ability to move the guys back-and-forth is a little bit of an advantage.”
Prior to the agreement with the Capitals, Reading partnered with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins.
Larry Courville, Reading’s coach and director of hockey operations, is serving as a guest coach for this week’s development camp at KCI.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a little easier on us with the travel only being less than an hour, getting players back and forth, it makes sense,” Courville said at development camp. “Unfortunately for the players sometimes, with the amount of roster spots in the American League there’s going to be some players that may have to sit out some games. They’re going to want those guys playing. It was tough in years past with Toronto being an eight hour drive or a long flight getting those guys to play for us on a regular basis..”
Said Royals General Manager Mark Wallace in a news release: “This affiliation agreement kicks off a new era of Royals’ hockey. The Capitals have a deep tradition of success and a proven track record of identifying and developing young talent. The history of success of professional hockey in Hershey is simply legendary. We look forward to working with the Capitals and Bears as we all seek to strengthen and grow our sport in Central Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake region.”