Preds extend affiliation with Cincinnati, NHL cancels games through October 24

It was a busy day Thursday with the Nashville Predators and their East Coast Hockey League affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones agreeing to renew their affiliation. The ECHL is just a level below the American Hockey League. Read the press release after the jump.

However, the biggest news Thursday came from league offices announcing that the National Hockey League has cancelled games through October 24. According to the NHL, 82 games have been wiped off the schedule total.

With the NHL cancelling games through October 24, the Nashville Predators will be missing seven games. But they could be rescheduled. Now, the season opener will be on Thursday, October 25 in Phoenix. Here are the list as follows:

Friday, Oct 12: @ Detroit
Saturday, Oct 13: vs St. Louis
Tuesday, Oct 16: vs Colorado
Thursday, Oct 18: vs Vancouver
Saturday, Oct 20: vs Pittsburgh
Monday, Oct 22: @ Anaheim
Tuesday, Oct 23: @ Los Angeles

Here is the press release sent out by the Nashville Predators on renewing their affiliation with the Cincinnati Cyclones.

Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has renewed its affiliation with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones have served as Nashville’s secondary developmental affiliate since the 2007-08 season, winning a pair of Kelly Cup titles (2008 and 2010) in that span.

Chet Pickard in net for the Cyclones.

The Cyclones will function as a developmental affiliate for both Nashville, and its primary developmental affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Cincinnati plays its home games at the 14,453-seat U.S. Bank Arena, located downtown next to Great American Ballpark.

“Partnering with a franchise that has a tradition of winning, in a city with a strong hockey history, will allow our players to develop as professionals in a successful environment,” Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said. “We are confident that those Cyclones who are called upon will contribute consistently to the success of the Milwaukee Admirals. The Predators are excited to continue our relationship with the Cyclones.”

Founded in 1990 as an ECHL franchise, the Cyclones competed in the International Hockey League (IHL) from 1992-2001. The Cyclones went 23-17-4 (.568 winning percentage) in games versus Milwaukee during that nine-year stretch. After the IHL ceased operations in 2001, the Cyclones returned to the ECHL for three more seasons.

After two seasons of inactivity – including one without professional hockey in Cincinnati – the Cyclones rejoined the ECHL in time for 2006-07, and quickly captured two Kelly Cup championships (2008 and 2010), two North Division titles (2008 and 2009), a Brabham Cup (league’s best record) and made three consecutive trips to the American Conference Finals (2008, 2009 and 2010).

During Cincinnati’s run to the 2010 Kelly Cup, Predators 2007 second-round pick Jeremy Smith garnered co-playoff MVP honors, minding the Cyclones net in 17 of their 24 games. In 2011-12, Nashville prospects Chet Pickard (2008 first-round pick), Taylor Aronson (2010 third-round pick) and Ben Ryan (2007 fourth-round pick) all saw time with the club.

The Cyclones have been under the guidance of Head Coach Jarrod Skalde since the 2010-11 season. The Niagara Falls, Ont., has 20 years of service in professional hockey, 17 as a player in the NHL, IHL, AHL and overseas, and as a head coach since 2008.

The ECHL is the leading professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. The league began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast circuit that will see 23 teams playing in 16 states in 2011-12, its 25th season. There have been nearly 500 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL.