Nearly one month following their historical announcement of becoming bona fide members of the ECHL, the Evansville IceMen have taken the next major step forward in solidifying their continued prominent presence and ascension in the pro hockey world.
On this date, the IceMen have announced that they have signed an agreement in which Evansville becomes the official ECHL affiliate of the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets. Through this unprecedented agreement for pro hockey in Evansville, the IceMen will be in a position to gain a close, working relationship with the Columbus organization based on player development with access to some high-caliber young players being groomed to be future Blue Jackets.
The IceMen General Manager/Head Coach Rich Kromm expressed much enthusiasm over the new Evansville/Columbus partnership. “We are extremely excited to launch our new journey into the ECHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets as our NHL partner. Our move into the ECHL is a positive step forward in the evolution of our young organization and being able to affiliate with a strong partner like Columbus will give us a solid foundation in beginning our ECHL era.”
Columbus Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland echoed the sentiments of GM/Coach Kromm with today’s affiliation announcement. “The Columbus Blue Jackets are very excited to have the Evansville IceMen as our ECHL affiliate. Finding the right partner in the ECHL was an important priority for us this off-season. We are thrilled to be able to work with Head Coach Rich Kromm and look forward to having a great relationship with the entire Evansville organization.”
Through this newly-conceived Evansville/Columbus connection, the IceMen take their place as the Premier AA member of the Blue Jackets system which also includes the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons of the AAA American Hockey League (AHL).
Today’s announcement is considered a major, ground-breaking one as it is the first time-ever in the brief history of Evansville IceMen pro hockey that the local franchise has become a member of a National Hockey League organization.
The Columbus Blue Jackets became members of the NHL in 2000 with the upcoming 2012-13 season being the franchise 13th in the National Hockey League.