Wednesday was a sad day for New England hockey.
The Manchester Monarchs, the longtime New Hampshire-based affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, announced plans to cease operations due to ongoing financial issues. The Monarchs served as the Kings’ AHL affiliate from 2001 until 2015, when the franchise shifted gears and became the the organization’s East Coast Hockey League affiliate.
Here’s an excerpt from a statement shared on the Monarchs’ website:
“To our loyal fans and partners … Your enthusiasm and support has been great and is appreciated by all of us. After many years of investment and financial support, first from the Los Angeles Kings organization, and ultimately by a subsequent investor group, and after seeking assistance from the city, state, and (SNHU Arena), we have collectively decided this was our final season.
” … Beyond the hockey, watching our fans enjoy a night out with family, friends, and colleagues has been rewarding. We have been privileged to collaborate with several incredible components of our community — from schools to youth hockey to local non-profit organizations — and we have enjoyed being able to provide the Monarchs organization to help them achieve their goals especially through the Monarchs Care Foundation.
“Once again, thank you for your support, loyalty, and for all the memories we shared together.”
It’s easy to forget, but the Monarchs once were a big deal in New England, and the organization’s role both in the New Hampshire community and in the local hockey scene can’t be understated.
Their first season coincided with the construction of the then-Verizon Wireless Arena which, in addition to being the home of the Monarchs, has hosted concerts, various community functions and youth, high school and collegiate hockey tournaments since its completion in 2001. Southern New Hampshire University and SMG partnered in 2016 to rename the facility the SNHU Arena for at least 10 years. The arena also occasionally hosts Boston Celtics preseason games and previously served as the home of the now-defunct Manchester Wolves of the now-disbanded Arena Football 2 league.
The Monarchs also played a significant role in the Kings’ success earlier this decade. No, L.A.’s Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2014 weren’t comprised solely of AHL graduates, but they did feature plenty of Monarchs alums, including star goalie Jonathan Quick and then-captain Dustin Brown.
As the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Monarchs won one regular-season title, four division championships, one conference championship and one Calder Cup, the trophy given to the AHL’s championship team. Manchester’s Calder Cup-winning team in 2014-15 included the likes of Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller, who previously played for the Kings and Boston Bruins, and winger Paul “BizNasty” Bissonnette, now a co-host of Barstool Sports’ massively popular “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast.
The Monarchs won an ECHL division championship in 2015-16, their first season in the league. Their 2018-19 season concluded May 6 with a 5-1 loss to the Newfoundland Growlers in Game 6 of their second-round Kelly Cup playoffs series.
There’s no official word nor rumor pertaining to Manchester’s potential interest in landing a pro hockey team in the future. For what it’s worth, the Atlanta Gladiators currently serve as the Bruins’ ECHL affiliate.