The Colorado Eagles, based out of Loveland, announced today that they have accepted an invitation to join the ECHL for next season -- one of two leagues (along with the AHL) officially affiliated with the NHL to develop young talent. Details will be released soon, but the surprising announcement immediately changes their outlook for the upcoming season. Their schedule will increase to 72 regular season games as they join the Western Conference of the ECHL.
The Eagles have been dominant in their eight seasons of existence, making the Central Hockey League finals in five of those seasons. Their recent success -- and home sellout streak that spans from the franchise's inception -- made them a prime candidate to join the ECHL.
Though they currently do not have an affiliation with a major NHL club, a partnership with the Colorado Avalanche now becomes a distinct possibility due to location. The Avalanche are officially affiliated with the AHL Lake Erie Monsters, but do not hold such confederations with an ECHL team at this time. With today's announcement, this becomes far more likely in the near future. But for now, the Eagles have switched leagues, and that is good news for competitive hockey in northern Colorado.