Gladiators renew deal with NHL's Coyotes

A year after forming an affiliation partnership with the Phoenix Coyotes, the Gwinnett Gladiators have renewed it for another season.

Officials from both teams announced Tuesday the renewal of the agreement that will have the NHL Coyotes send players to the ECHL Gladiators for another season.

"It was a good experience," Gladiators general manager Steve Chapman of the first season of the affiliation with Phoenix after the team spent its first eight seasons affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers, who moved to Winnipeg just over a year ago. "We really want to be affiliated with an organization that's not just going stash players at our (ECHL) level, but that wants to develop players and wants us to be a part of that process."

The Phoenix organization was also pleased with how the affiliation went in the first season.

"They have consistently proven to be an elite organization within the ECHL," Coyotes vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager Brad Treliving said of the Gladiators, who went 41-20-7-4 and won the ECHL's South Division last season. "And we look forward to having our young prospects continue their development in Gwinnett."

The process will continue with the Coyotes organization sending perhaps as many as six players to the Gladiators when the 2012-13 season begins in October.

Most importantly from the Gladiators' perspective, two of those players will be goaltenders, according to Chapman.

"Phoenix wants to go six goaltenders deep (throughout the organization) this season -- two at each level," Chapman said. "So, we'll have a bit of a safety net in case there are injuries and someone gets called up.

"At this point, (how many Phoenix players start the season in Gwinnett) all depends on (training camp). They'll probably send us two goaltenders and hopefully one or two forwards and one or two defensemen to start the season."

Despite Phoenix's off-ice ownership issues, including persistent rumors the team could relocate to another city in the near future, Chapman says the affiliation with the Coyotes' organization is solid.

And with the Coyotes coming off one of their most successful seasons on the ice in 2011-12, advancing all the way to the Western Conference finals during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chapman is hopeful the team will send prospects who have a chance to impact the Gladiators' drive toward the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

"It's a concern," Chapman said of the Phoenix ownership situation. "I did talk to Brad about it, but it is what it is. Hopefully, the ownership situation gets remediated soon.

"Obviously, they've got good hockey guys out there."

The Gladiators also received players from the Buffalo Sabres organization last season, a situation that could continue this season, though in a more limited capacity.

"I have been talking with Buffalo," Chapman said. "They may sprinkling some guys around the (ECHL) this year. So, we'll see."