Orlando, FL - The Orlando Solar Bears announced today that they have added the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Toronto Marlies (AHL) as NHL and AHL affiliates. The Solar Bears will enter the 2013-14 season with dual affiliates. Toronto will join the Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild in supplying prospects to the Solar Bears roster.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Solar Bears," said Leafs Vice President and Assistant General Manager Claude Loiselle. "As an organization, we are confident that our Toronto Maple Leafs prospects will accelerate their professional development in Orlando."
"I am very excited for the opportunity to work with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies in developing their players and prospects in a great hockey environment here in Orlando," said Head Coach Vince Williams.
Toronto's roster last season featured four players that spent time in the ECHL. Starting goaltender James Reimer played for both the Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays in 2008-09, capturing the Kelly Cup with the Stingrays, and being named the ECHL Playoff MVP. Goaltender Ben Scrivens played in 13 games for the Royals in 2010-11 and was selected to play in the ECHL All-Star Game that season. Center David Steckel had nine points in nine games with the Royals in 2004-05, and goaltending prospect Jussi Rynnas played half of the 2011-12 season with Reading.
Five ECHL teams were affiliated with two NHL organizations last season. Those teams include the Cincinnati Cyclones (Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators), Evansville IceMen (Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues), Florida Everblades (Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning), Toledo Walleye (Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings), and Wheeling Nailers (Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins).
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the oldest and most-storied NHL franchises, and are one of the "Original Six" teams to play in the NHL. They will celebrate their 100th anniversary in the NHL in the near future (established in 1917) and have captured the Stanley Cup an impressive 13 times, second most to only the Montreal Canadiens. Last season, the Leafs finished fifth in the Eastern Conference and pushed the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins to seven games in the first round. Toronto boasts 39 players who have been inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, including Darryl Sittler, Tim Horton, Johnny Bower, and Mats Sundin.
Maple Leafs Team Management/Profiles:
Dave Nonis began his tenure with the Maple Leafs as Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations in 2008 and became the team's General Manager in January of 2013. Previously, Nonis served as the General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks from 2004-2008.
Dave Poulin is the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Maple Leafs and General Manager of the Toronto Marlies. Poulin played 13 seasons in the NHL from 1982 until 1995 with the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington Capitals. Poulin scored 205 goals and added on 325 assists for 530 points in 724 career games. After his playing career, Poulin spent 10 years as the Head Coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and was inducted into the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame in 2005.
Claude Loiselle is the Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played 13 seasons in the NHL from 1981 to 1994. He scored 209 points on 92 goals and 117 assists along with 1,149 PIM in 616 games with Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Quebec Nordiques, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Prior to accepting a position with the Maple Leafs, Loiselle spent seven years as the Associate Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL.
Jim Hughes is the Director of Player Development for Toronto. He played four years of college hockey with Providence College, winning the ECAC Championship in 1994-95, and was an assistant coach for the Solar Bears from 1999-2001, helping Orlando collect the 2000-01 Turner Cup Championship. Hughes was an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins from 2001-2003 and then the Manchester Monarchs from 2003-05 and took over as the Head Coach of the team in 2005-06. Hughes then spent two years as an assistant coach for the Toronto Marlies (2006-08) before joining the Maple Leafs.