RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City Rush announced that they have entered into an affiliation agreement with the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League.
“This is a very important day for the Rapid City Rush organization,” said Joe Ferras, Head Coach and GM of the Rush. “We are thrilled to be entering into an affiliation agreement with two first-class organizations in the Arizona Coyotes and Springfield Falcons. The ECHL is a very important part in the development of players for both NHL and AHL teams. Our fans will see a younger team with NHL prospects that will graduate to the American Hockey League and hopefully play at the NHL level.”
Beginning operation in 1972 in the WHA, the Coyotes were the original incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. The then-Jets joined the NHL just seven years later as part of the NHL/WHA merger, and remained a part of the league in Manitoba until 1996, when the team moved to Phoenix to become the Phoenix Coyotes. Since moving to Arizona 20 years ago, the Coyotes have enjoyed eight playoff appearances as a franchise, including their first ever Pacific Division championship in the 2011-12 season, advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals in that playoff run, only to fall short to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. After 17 seasons of being referred to as the Phoenix Coyotes, the franchise rebranded to their most recent name, the Arizona Coyotes, to reflect their mission to represent and commit to all loyal hockey fans in the state of Arizona.
“We are excited to partner with the Rapid City Rush as our new ECHL affiliate,” said Don Maloney, GM of the Arizona Coyotes. “The Rush is a first class organization with a very passionate fan base. We are looking forward to a great partnership.” When asked about what led the Coyotes to make their decision on coming to the Black Hills, Maloney continued: “Quite frankly, it came down to coaching. When we did our research on different ECHL teams, it came back to coaching and development for our players. Joe’s reputation is outstanding, as is the reputation of the franchise. This team is by far the best pick for us.”
The Arizona Coyotes are affiliated with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, and enter their first year as affiliated partner clubs. Since their inception, the Falcons have been crowned division champions four different times in the North, New England, and most recently the Northeast Division, including two in the last three years, winning back-to-back years in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.