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Manchester Monarchs fold after 18 seasons

Staff Reports
Published: 5/15/2019 9:59:59 PM
Modified: 5/15/2019 9:59:50 PM

MANCHESTER — New Hampshire’s first foray into professional minor league hockey has come to a close.

The Manchester Monarchs announced on Wednesday their intention to cease operations after 18 years of existence. The affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings spent its first 15 years in the American Hockey League before a shift to the lower-level ECHL in 2015.

“Over the past three years, we enjoyed three deep playoff runs, improved the affordability and quality of the family experience, and have made significant investment in the local community,” Monarchs CEO Brian Cheek said in a news release. “But ultimately, after discussing it with the city, state, arena, and the L.A. Kings and seeking investment from other potential buyers, it became clear that ECHL hockey was no longer viable in Manchester.

“When we took over the team, our hope was that reinvestment in a winning hockey team and investment in the Manchester community would reinvigorate Manchester’s enthusiasm for minor league hockey,” Cheek added.

The Monarchs, owned by the Kings, debuted in 2001 and were competitive for the length of their AHL membership. Manchester ranked third in the AHL in attendance with 8,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.com, in its inaugural campaign and led the AHL in crowd size three times in its first five seasons. The team capped off its run in hockey’s top minor league by winning the Calder Cup championship in 2015.

By then, the AHL had plans to add a Pacific Division to its alignment, leading the Kings to move their ECHL team at the time, the Ontario (Calif.) Reign, to the AHL for the 2015-16 season at the Monarchs’ expense. Manchester saw its average crowd drop by nearly 1,000 people during its first ECHL season, ranking next-to-last this past winter at 2,458 per game, nearly 2,000 below the league average.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Kings’ owners, sold the Monarchs in 2016. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the current owners announced plans to sell the team last January. The inability to find a new buyer led to Wednesday’s announcement.

Manchester reached the second round of the ECHL playoffs earlier this month, losing in six games to Newfoundland. The Monarchs’ last home game in the series, on May 3, was played at the Rinks at Exeter because of a scheduling conflict at SNHU Arena.




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