The Arizona Coyotes have a new ECHL affiliate. After two years with the Rapid City Rush, the Coyotes announced they had signed an agreement with the Atlanta Gladiators.
The Coyotes had previously been affiliated with the organization from 2011-15. However, both teams have changed names since. The Phoenix Coyotes became the Arizona Coyotes, and the Gwinnett Gladiators became the Atlanta Gladiators.
Atlanta plays out the Gas South Arena and had a 43-24-4-1 record last season. They finished second in the South Division and made it to the playoffs before getting swept by the Jacksonville Icemen.
The Gladiators have a storied history. They originated as the Mobile Mysticks, check out this logo, before suspending operation in 2002 and being relocated to Gwinnett County. They have made it to the Kelly Cup Finals once, falling to Alaska Aces in five games in the 2006 Finals.
Atlanta is led by General Manager and Head coach Jeff Pyle. Pyle was coaching the team all the way back with the Mobil Mysticks days and stayed with the team since 2011. After coaching teams in the AHL, the ECHL, and the SPHL. He won the John Brophy Award for the top ECHL coach.
A good ECHL affiliate can be vital in a team’s professional development. While most NHL players don’t spend much time there, players like Bokondji Imama and Dysin Mayo have spent time in the ECHL. In addition, it is a big step for goaltenders, with David Tendeck, Jon Gillies, and Ivan Prosvetov having some ECHL experience.