KALAMAZOO — The Kalamazoo Wings have finalized an affiliation partnership for the upcoming season with the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets and their American Hockey League partner, the Cleveland Monsters.
The deal rejoins two former partners after Kalamazoo served as the Blue Jackets’ ECHL affiliate from 2014 to 2016. Through the affiliation, players for the Kalamazoo Wings can be called up to the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate and potentially up to the NHL.
“We are thrilled to partner once again with the Kalamazoo Wings as they operate as our ECHL affiliate,” Chris Clark, director of player personnel for the Columbus Blue Jackets, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the development of some of the young players in our system, both on and off the ice, while working with head coach Nick Bootland, his coaching staff and the entire K-Wings organization.”
Over the team’s 47-year history, the K-Wings have affiliated with a long list of NHL teams, including with the Detroit Red Wings from 1974 to 1987. Most recently, the K-Wings affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2016-2017 season.
Last year, Kalamazoo opted out of its season because of COVID-19 concerns. The team will kick off its new season on Oct. 23.
“We’re excited to begin this new affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Cleveland Monsters,” K-Wings Head Coach Nick Bootland said in a statement. “Chris Clark was instrumental in creating this partnership. Through our conversations this summer, we share the same vision and belief about the success of this three-tiered system.”