Monday, 13 August 2012

Reading Rainbow

Getting To Know The Royals

Royals GM LeVar Burton
With CBA negotiations still underway and the threat of a lockout looming, NHL fans may find themselves with more time to pay to the minor leagues at the start of next season.  For Caps fans that means time to get to know our new ECHL affiliate the Reading Royals.

A Brief History of the Royals

The franchise was founded in 1991 as the Columbus Chill, and after several years in Columbus the Chill suspended operations in order to make way for the Blue Jackets.  The franchise resumed operations in 2001 in its new home of Reading, PA, as the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings and the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.  In 2008-09 the Royals changed affiliations, and became the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs.  This summer they changed their affiliations again and became the ECHL club of the Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears--a deal that works out well for all the parties involved because it allows for short travel and easy reassignment of players between the ECHL, AHL, and NHL.

The Rivals

The Elmira Jackals seen competing for the ECHL's most embarrassing jersey.
The first thing that you'll want to know when rooting for the Caps' new farm team is, "who should I hate?"  The Royals have two main rivals.  The first is the Elmira Jackals, who are the affiliate team of the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks and play out of Elmira, New York.  The next rival that you'll need to know to hate is the Trenton Titans, who are the baby club for the Philadelphia Flyers--despite that I'm having a hard time trying to dislike them for some reason.  The Royals also had a nice cross-state rivalry with the Johnstown Chiefs.  Unfortunately the Chiefs were forced to move to Greenville, SC in 2010--not even acquiring the Hanson brothers was able to save the team from relocation.

The Mascot

Slapshot seen hunting the most dangerous game (with t-shirts).
The Royals are represented by a lion with a familiar name and a love of dance.  Slapshot the lion is known for his amazing dance skills--which he isn't shy to show off around Sovereign Center--and for his tendency to flash the opposing team along the glass and opposing players that are in the sin bin.  He also bears a striking resemblance to James Gandolfini.  The biggest problem that he'll have to overcome if he ever expects to make the big leagues is the confusion that goes along with his name.

Now that you've learned the basics you should have no problem welcoming this team in eastern PA into the Caps family, and I for one can't wait to make it out to a Royals game next season.

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