WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Grizzlies have a new National Hockey League partner.

After being affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks the last three seasons, the Grizzlies announced on Thursday they are beginning a new partnership with the Colorado Avalanche, effective July 1st, 2018.

“This affiliation helps take us to the next level as we continue to grow the game of hockey in Utah,” said Grizzlies CEO Kevin Bruder. “Colorado’s dedication to winning and their acknowledgment of the pride and winning culture that we have in our organization is exciting.”

“We are excited for this partnership with the Grizzlies,” said Avalanche Assistant General Manager Craig Billington, who also serves as General Manager of the Colorado Eagles. “The Grizzlies are a strong organization with ties to the state of Colorado dating back even before the Avalanche came to Denver. The Grizzlies provide a great environment for our prospects to develop in and now gives us the opportunity to have our NHL, AHL and ECHL club all within the Rocky Mountain region.”

“We have a lot to offer and so do they, Colorado takes development very seriously,” said Grizzlies Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham.  “The Avalanche are going to be very involved as we put together our roster and we can’t wait to get started. When you have the depth that they do, it makes everything easier.”

The Avalanche’ previous ECHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, who are now their AHL affiliate, won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship in 2017 and 2018. Colorado’s ECHL affiliate has reached at least the second round of the playoffs in five consecutive seasons and at least the Conference Finals in three-straight seasons.

With the youngest team in the NHL, the Avalanche returned to the playoffs in 2017-2018 with a 43-30-9 record, a 47-point increase from 2016-2017 and the fourth largest year-to-year point increase in NHL history.

“The Avalanche have a strong following in Utah and we’ve always noted the amount of their jerseys seen at our games ,” said Bruder. 

The Grizzlies and Avalanche history goes back to 1995 when the Grizzlies departed for Utah after one season in Denver to make way for the Quebec Nordiques NHL relocation to the Mile High City.