The Toledo Walleye will remain an affiliate of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks after the organizations reached an agreement today.
The Walleye have served as Chicago's ECHL affiliate since Toledo's inaugural season in 2009. The team also has an affiliation with the Detroit Red Wings.
On the last three seasons, the Blackhawks have sent 25 players to the Walleye. Toledo exchanges players with Chicago's American Hockey League team, the Rockford IceHogs.
Mark Bernard, the Blackhawks general manager of minor league affiliations, said the relationship has been mutually beneficial.
“There isn't a better place for our young prospects,” Bernard said.
Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said Chicago will once again assign contracted players to his team.
“We will work together to bring good hockey players to the Walleye organization to continue their development, help us win games, and ultimately see some of these players elevate themselves to the next level,” Vitucci said.
Several Blackhawk prospects have made an impact with Toledo.
Center Peter Leblanc, who was Rockford's second leading scorer last season, started his career out in Toledo. Leblanc, a seventh round choice of the Blackhawks, had 22 points in 22 games at the start of the 2010-11 for the Walleye. He has been up in the AHL ever since.
Forward Andy Bohmbach set a Walleye franchise record for points (72) in a single year (28 goals and 44 assists) in 2010-11.
Goalie Alec Richards has posted 25 wins over two-plus seasons with Toledo.
The Walleye will open the 2012-13 season on Saturday, Oct. 13 at home against Kalamazoo.
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