It's back to the future for the South Carolina Stingrays.
The Stingrays signed an affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, both clubs announced Thursday.
The Stingrays, who were affiliated with the Capitals from 2004-12, had been affiliated with the NHL's Boston Bruins for the last two seasons.
"We are excited to be back with Washington and the Hershey Bears (American Hockey League) for the upcoming season," said Stingrays President Robbie Concannon. "We are extremely happy with our meetings with Washington and the direction all three teams are heading. We look forward to working with and developing their young prospects."
Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan was forced to look for a new ECHL affiliation after the Reading Royals switched their NHL affiliation to the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We are pleased to announce our ECHL affiliation with the South Carolina Stingrays," MacLellan said. "The Stingrays are a great organization and they were terrific partners with us during our previous affiliation. We are looking forward to our prospects being able to grow and develop with a first-class organization."
Nine players who skated for the Capitals last season played in the ECHL, including former Stingrays goaltenders Philipp Grubauer and Branden Holtby. Grubauer was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team while playing for South Carolina in 2011-12, and Holtby represented the Stingrays at the 2009-10 ECHL All-Star Game.
The Stingrays captured the ECHL's South Division crown during the 2013-14 season with a 43-23-6 (92 points) record. The Stingrays finished third in the Eastern Conference. Stingrays head coach Spencer Carbery was named the ECHL Coach of the Year.
The Stingrays reached the ECHL playoffs in seven consecutive seasons and were previously affiliated with the Capitals for eight seasons. The Stingrays won the Kelly Cup in 2009, the same year Washington's AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, won the AHL's Calder Cup.
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