The ECHL is a professional minor-league double-A hockey association based in the United States and Canada. The League began play in 1988 with 5 teams, the Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers), the Erie Panthers (now the Victoria Salmon Kings), the Johnstown Chiefs, the Knoxville Cherokees (now the Pee Dee Pride), and the Virginia Lancers (the team is currently defunct, last playing as the Lexington Men O' War in 2003). Since that time, the League has steadily grown, reaching its largest size in 2003 of 31 teams before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004 season. In 2003, the ECHL absorbed the teams of the West Coast Hockey League (Alaska, Bakersfield, Fresno, Idaho, Long Beach, and San Diego) and has since realigned into two conferences with two divisions each. Following the merger, the official name of the league was changed from East Coast Hockey League to simply ECHL. In 2004, the ECHL added its first Canadian team, the Victoria Salmon Kings of Victoria, British Columbia. On February 1, 2005, it was announced that a new franchise to be called the Phoenix Roadrunners will begin play in the 2005-06 season. On February 3, 2005, it was announced that the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies were sold to an ownership group that plans to relocated the team to Stockton, California, for the 2005-06 season.
(NHL affiliates in parentheses)
Like any minor league, the ECHL has its share of defunct teams. Teams that no longer play within the ECHL are listed below. All of the teams, except for the Greensboro Generals and the Roanoke Express , which were terminated by the ECHL, are considered to have suspended operations and the franchises placed for sale.
- Cincinnati Cyclones
- Columbus Cottonmouths (Team will return for the 2005-2006 season as the Gulf Coast Swords)
- Greensboro Generals
- Greensboro Monarchs
- Jackson Bandits
- Jacksonville Lizard Kings
- Lexington Men O' War
- New Orleans Brass
- Richmond Renegades
- Roanoke Express
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46