Reading, Pa. – The Reading Royals and Philadelphia Flyers announced that the two organizations have extended their working arrangement with a multi-year affiliation agreement. Under the affiliation extension, which was originally signed in June of 2014, the Royals will receive players designated for assignment within the professional hockey operations development system of the Flyers.
“We’re very excited to extend our affiliation relationship with the Flyers,” said Royals President Drew Bell. “We believe that the philosophy, culture and goals of the Royals and Flyers are consistent with one another—an unwavering dedication to excellence in all phases of our operations and ultimately, of course, winning hockey games. There is no question that the relationship with the Flyers has paid positive dividends for the Royals over the past two seasons, and we anticipate that our position within the Flyers’ player development pipeline is only going to get stronger over the next several seasons. We look forward to this opportunity to expand our role in the effort to develop young prospects and grow the interest in and support for professional hockey in Southeast Pennsylvania.”
“We are pleased to extend and continue our relationship with the Royals,” said Flyers’ General Manager Ron Hextall. “Reading has created a long-term culture of success and has provided our prospects a positive environment that is important in the development of their careers. The geographic proximity of our minor league affiliations in Lehigh Valley and Reading gives our coaches and scouting department the best possible platform to evaluate and promote the advancement of our prospects within the Flyers system.”
“I’m looking forward to continuing our working relationship with the Flyers,” said Royals’ Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Larry Courville. “There is no question that our team’s success is directly tied with that of our affiliate, and we believe that we have built a positive working arrangement with the Flyers over the last couple of years. We’re dedicated to continuing our effort to help young prospects pursue their goal of advancing to the highest level of the game, while engaging those same young players in our team’s goal to win another ECHL championship.”
The Flyers, who celebrated their 50th anniversary of being awarded an NHL franchise this past February, joined the NHL as part of the six team expansion which began play in the 1967-68 season. The Flyers, who play their home games at Wells Fargo Center in south Philadelphia, hold an overall, historic win percentage at .577, which is second only to the Montreal Canadiens as the best ever in the NHL. The Flyers, who won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975, have qualified for playoffs in 38 of the team’s 48 seasons and have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals eight times, most recently in 2010 when the Flyers were defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers American Hockey League affiliate, are slated to play their third season in Allentown, Pennsylvania, this fall. As has been the case over the past two seasons, it is expected that the Royals will work closely with the Phantoms with respect to player movement within the Flyers’ minor professional development system.
The Royals, who are entering the team’s 16th season in Reading, have qualified for the postseason 11 times, including the last seven consecutively. The Royals won the league’s Kelly Cup championship in 2013. Last year, Reading advanced to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals prior to being knocked out in Game Seven (in overtime) by the Wheeling Nailers in the second round playoff series. In 2015-16, no fewer that fourteen players, including two goaltenders, played for the Royals under either an NHL or AHL contract with the Flyers. Two players who were under ECHL contract with Reading last season, Joe Rehkamp and Kevin Sundher, were also called up to the Phantoms, and Sundher ultimately signed an AHL deal with the Flyers.
From the Royals’ inception in 2001 through 2008, the team was primarily affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Manchester Monarchs, who were in the AHL during that time period. From 2008-09 through 2011-12, the Royals were affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and, beginning in 2009-10, the Royals added a secondary affiliation with the Boston Bruins of the NHL. From 2012 through 2014, Reading was affiliated with the Washington Capitals of the NHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL.