Monsters, Avalanche extend agreement

The National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche and American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters have agreed to a multi-year extension to their current affiliation agreement, it was announced today.

The 2010-11 season marks the fourth in which the Monsters have served as the top affiliate for Colorado. Since the agreement began in 2007-08, a total of 22 players have made their NHL debut with the Avs after beginning the season with Lake Erie.

There are currently 14 players on Colorado’s roster that have suited up for the Monsters at one point. Current Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco and assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre previously served in the same positions with Lake Erie during the first two years of the franchise’s existence (2007-09).

“Our goal was to establish a long-term relationship with a strong hockey environment for our players,” said Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “Throughout the past three years we clearly reached that goal and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Cavaliers Operating Company and the Lake Erie Monsters.”

The Lake Erie franchise was previously operated as the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL before their AHL franchise rights were purchased by a group led by Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, in May of 2006. The Monsters began playing at Quicken Loans Arena in October of 2007.

Since starting in Cleveland in 2007, the Monsters have continued to increase their attendance numbers. In their first year of 2007-08, the Monsters were 11th in average attendance in the AHL, which then rose to ninth the following year, and sixth in 2009-10. After just three seasons in the league, the Monsters also boast the sixth-highest attended game in the history of the AHL. On January 22, 2010, 18,626 fans turned out to The Q in what would also mark the franchise’s single-game attendance record.

“We are thrilled from both a hockey and business perspective to continue our affiliation with the Avalanche,” said Monsters President Kerry Bubolz. “They have been a true partner with us, and as one of the elite franchises in the NHL, we feel that they align perfectly with our organization’s desire to be the best in the AHL.”

The Lake Erie Monsters are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization and also owned by a group led by Cavaliers Majority Owner and Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert.