The Bear Cave

August 5, 2009 9:25 AM

Reading Royals Join Bruins' Organization

On Tuesday afternoon, the Boston Bruins announced that a new team will be joining the organization. The ECHL's Reading Royals will have a dual affiliation during the 2009-10 season, as they will receive players from the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. For those unfamiliar with the ECHL, Reading's role will be similar to that of a Double-A baseball team. The AHL's Providence Bruins will still be the primary affiliate.

For the past 17 seasons, the Bruins have had one of the most successful organizations in professional hockey, as they have developed their players in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. Providence has made the postseason in 15 of those 17 years, including a current streak of 11 consecutive seasons. Current Bruins such as David Krejci, Mark Stuart, and Tim Thomas are among the many players who have used the pipeline to perfection, working on their skills in Rhode Island, before becoming major contributors with the NHL club. Brad Marchand and Andrew Bodnarchuk are two names that will likely be found on this year's roster, as the Baby B's aim for a 12th straight playoff appearance.

Last season, the Bruins organization did not have an affiliate in the ECHL, meaning that players landed in various locations. Ned Lukacevic was a member of the Reading Royals last season, while Kevin Nastiuk's ECHL time was split between the Alaska Aces and Gwinnett Gladiators. One of the advantages to not having an affiliate was that Boston and Providence were able to explore the ECHL for other players that could potentially fit within the system.

Forward Aaron Slattengren fell into that role during the 2007-08 season, as he was playing with the Augusta Lynx. The Bruins signed him to a pair of 25-game tryouts, allowing him to suit up in 32 games with Providence. During that time, the Duluth, MN native recorded ten goals and 13 assists for 23 points. That was good enough for 14th place on the club.

Two players from the ECHL played significant roles with the P-Bruins during 2008-09. Kevin Schaeffer was signed to a tryout during the 2007-08 campaign, scoring one goal and one assist in 31 regular season games. The organization liked him so much that Schaeffer returned this past season, putting up three assists in 48 regular season games, while also appearing in five postseason contests. Providence also went with the physical route last season, bringing in tough guy Jonathan Tremblay. Tremblay did find the back of the net once during his 41 games in Rhode Island, but was more known for the nine times that he dropped his gloves.

Boston's most recent affiliate in the ECHL was the Long Beach Ice Dogs, who served that role during the 2006-07 season. TJ Trevelyan, Chris Collins, and Mike Brown were the most significant players from that club.

TJ Trevelyan found his stride quickly with the Ice Dogs, registering nine goals and eight assists in just 15 games. That led to an immediate recall to Providence, where his production continued. In 132 games over two seasons with the Baby B's, the graduate of St. Lawrence University had 46 goals, 45 assists, and 91 points. Trevelyan also had success in the playoffs for Providence, accumulating eight goals and nine assists in 13 tilts.

Chris Collins spent the majority of his 2006-07 campaign in California, playing in 51 games with the Ice Dogs. During that time, the forward had 18 goals, 19 assists, and 37 points, ultimately leading to 17 regular season games and one postseason appearance in Providence. That success helped to earn Collins a permanent role with the Peebs during the 2007-08 season, and he responded with 22 goals, 19 assists, and 41 points in 72 regular season games.

Mike Brown played in 43 regular season games with the Ice Dogs during the 2006-07 season, going 15-21-2. Although he only saw 20 minutes of AHL action during that season, he did play a major role in Providence for about a month during the 2007-08 campaign. With Tuukka Rask in Boston and Jordan Sigalet on the shelf, Brown was called into action for nine games. The Baldwinsville, NY native took full advantage of the playing time, compiling a 6-2 record, a 2.87 goals against average, and an .891 save percentage in nine appearances between the pipes.

Boston's other most recent affiliate was the Greenville Grrrowl.

With all of the depth in the organization, the Bruins will be hoping to use Reading as another successful stepping stone for their players and their development. The Royals play in the American Conference with eleven other franchises. Opening night takes place on October 15th, when Reading hosts the Kalamazoo Wings at the Sovereign Center. The Wings are expected to announce their affiliate on Wednesday. Fans searching for the ECHL rivalry with Montreal should look to the Cincinnati Cyclones, who have a split affiliation with the Canadiens and Nashville Predators.

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