The new professional hockey team starting play in Portland this year will be affiliated with the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, team officials announced Monday.
“The New York Rangers are pleased to begin our partnership with the Maine Mariners,” said Chris Drury, Rangers assistant general manager and general manager of its American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, in a statement.
“We look forward to starting a new chapter of professional hockey in our organization and are excited to join with the Mariners as they embark on their first season in the ECHL in 2018-19,” the former Stanley Cup champion and Rangers captain continued.
— Maine Mariners Hockey (@MarinersOfMaine) April 9, 2018
As a minor league affiliate of the Rangers, the New York team will send prospects to play in Portland as they work their way up to the NHL level. The Rangers joined the NHL in 1926 and are one of the league’s storied “Original 6” franchises, along with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and others.
“When you talk about hockey, the Rangers are one of the first teams that come to mind,” Adam Goldberg, vice president of business operations for the Mariners, told WGME, CBS 13. “So for us to have that affiliation with such a classy organization is really just a leg up to get us started here once the puck drops in October.”
The Mariners replace the Greenville, South Carolina, Swamp Rabbits as New York’s ECHL affiliate, according to the Rangers blog BlueShirtBanter.com. Among the Rangers prospects who spent time at the ECHL level — albeit very briefly — in recent years was goalie Cam Talbot, who was later traded and went on to set the franchise record for wins in a season for the Edmonton Oilers.
“We are honored to be affiliated with such an iconic team like the New York Rangers,” said Danny Briere, Maine Mariners vice president of hockey operations. “Myself and [Mariners Coach Riley] Armstrong are looking forward to working with the Rangers staff and not only putting a great team on the ice here in Maine, but building future Rangers players for years to come.”
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