- Walleye to Continue Serving as Red Wings’ ECHL Affiliate for Three Seasons
The Detroit Red Wings and ECHL’s Toledo Walleye today announced a three-year extension of their affiliation agreement. The 2023-24 season marks the 14th year of partnership between the clubs and extends the affiliation through at least the 2026-27 season.
“We’re very pleased to continue our partnership between the Red Wings and the Walleye,” said Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman. “Toledo continues to be an outstanding organization both on and off the ice, and playing in front of a passionate fanbase and a commitment to a winning culture has been vital for the development of our young players. We’re looking forward to seeing the Walleye continue their pursuit of a Kelly Cup championship.”
Since affiliating with the Red Wings and American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the Walleye have consistently ranked among the ECHL’s most successful franchises. Toledo has played in two Kelly Cup Finals (2019, 2022), won five divisional crowns and earned three Brabham Cup titles as the ECHL’s regular-season champions (2014-15, 2016-17, 2021-22). The Walleye have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in nine seasons, and most recently advanced to the 2023 Western Conference Final before falling to the Idaho Steelheads in five games.
Red Wings Head Coach Derek Lalonde made his professional coaching debut with the Walleye from 2014-16, posting a 97-35-7-5 record and a 14-14 postseason mark. Additionally, Griffins Head Coach Dan Watson served as Toledo’s bench boss from 2016-23, compiling a 272-112-22-13 record and a 51-34 playoff ledger. Off the ice, the Walleye are just as respected, winning the ECHL Award of Excellence six times, awarded to the organization with the most well-rounded business plan and presence in their community. In 2022-23, Toledo sold out 29 of its 36 home games to rank second in the league in attendance.
“The relationship between the Red Wings, Griffins and Walleye is one of the strongest in professional hockey,” said Walleye Executive Vice President and General Manager Neil Neukam. “This extension is a testament to their trust in our coaching and support staff as well as the passion of our great fans, who make Toledo such a great place for young players.”
Under the current affiliation, the Red Wings provide several NHL-contract players to the Walleye, as well as signing players to AHL/ECHL contracts who can play for either Grand Rapids or Toledo. Since 2009-10, 19 players and one coach from Toledo have gone on to the NHL, including 10 for the Red Wings: Jake Chelios, Jared Coreau, Martin Frk, Kaden Fulcher, Luke Glendening, Nick Jensen, Brian Lashoff, Tom McCollum, Petr Mrazek and Andrej Nestrasil.
Detroit was previously affiliated with the ECHL’s Toledo Storm from 1991-99 and 2000-07, prior to re-entering the league as the Walleye in 2009-10. The Storm won back-to-back Riley Cup championships in 1993 and 1994, in addition to six divisional crowns and two regular-season titles over their 16-season history.