By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced today that the organization has renewed its affiliation with the Atlanta Gladiators for the 2019-20 season. The Bruins originally made the first affiliation agreement back in the 2015-16 season and now enter their third affiliation after 2017-18’s renewal with this announcement.
Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle states that “this affiliation with Boston and Providence has provided great support for all clubs involved, and we look forward to developing the relationship and providing good young players for depth from our side that can help all of us be successful as well as bring more Gladiators and Bruins fans together at matches.” Gladiators team president Jerry James states that the club is “excited to share great hockey history with Boston and be able to extend the fanbase in the Atlanta metro area and surrounding communities.”
The Gladiators first began as the Mobile Mystics located in Mobile, Alabama from 1995-2002. In 2003 the franchise relocated to Georgia where they played in Gwinnett County and therefore were renamed the Gwinnett Gladiators. That name might sound familiar to some as they were the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers back in the day. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets, the club changed their name to the Atlanta Gladiators to give Atlanta a hockey team that supports the growing community. They also served as the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sabres, and Coyotes at one point. Also, both the South Carolina Stingrays and the Reading Royals served as the Bruin’s affiliates in the past
Because of this renewed affiliation, the Bruins can continue to designate players in their development system to the Gladiators. This should provide some much-needed development time for any prospects the Bruins feel they need to see more growth out of before they are ready to be called up to Providence. Keep in mind that the Bruins are not allowed to send down players from the NHL directly to the ECHL. They would have to choose which prospects in their development system to send to the ECHL. The prospects chosen are mostly ones that the Bruins don’t see being ready for the NHL, but they would like to keep them in their system. Therefore they can send them down to the ECHL to get some playing time. Many goalies in the system can be sent to the ECHL to develop “pro-like” skills and give the club something to keep an eye on down the road. Many goalies that have played in the NHL today have started their careers in the ECHL.
Sweeney says he “thanks the Gladiators franchise for the renewed affiliation and we like to extend our gratitude to the many associates of the ECHL club and we would like to thank the community of Duluth, Georgia for its unwavering support of the Gladiators and the Bruins.”
The Bruins should have some prospects in the system that don’t fit right now that would benefit spending a couple of seasons in the ECHL before they get a crack at Providence. One thing for sure is that the renewed Bruins/Gladiators affiliation should bring some more fans who live near Atlanta together as well as attract some new ones.