Winnipeg Jets Announce ECHL Affiliation with Colorado Eagles

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer ISeptember 9, 2011

The Winnipeg Jets added the next part of their franchise setup, adding the Colorado Eagles as their ECHL affiliates.

“We are excited to add the Colorado Eagles as an affiliate for the upcoming season,” Craig Heisinger, Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets, told

"Player development is one of the most important elements for long term success for an organization and we know Colorado will provide a great opportunity for some of our young players to gain valuable experience and new skills. As the Winnipeg Jets inaugural season approaches, we really look forward to a great first-year with the Eagles organization.”

With the Eagles being the only non-first-year organization as well, the Jets organization will be off on the same foot this season with two brand new teams competing in two pro leagues and one already established.

The Eagles were established in 2002 and their inaugural season was in 2003-04 as part of the Central Hockey League. They won the league in 2005 and 2007, making it to the CHL Finals an impressive five times and having the highest winning percentage of any professional team in North America (.715).

Another Manitoba connection comes in as the team is coached by Chris Stewart and former Moose forward Greg Pankewicz, who played with the Moose from 1996-97 to 1997-98. He also played for the Eagles from 2003-04 to 2008-09.

In addition, the Eagles hold the minor league pro record for most consecutive sellouts with 311 games, including playoffs, over their history.

"We're very excited about this affiliation and about being a part of the development of outstanding young players who are on their way to the highest level of our sport," said Chris Stewart, Colorado Eagles President and General Manager, on the team's official website.

"We feel this relationship will be mutually beneficial for all parties involved. We'll be able to help in the development of some NHL's draft choices, and the Jets and IceCaps will be able to send their prospects to a professional environment."