All levels of the Boston Bruins organization now will be based in New England.
The Maine Mariners on Wednesday announced that they would be the Boston Bruins’ ECHL affiliate starting in 2021-22. With that, the Bruins now will have their NHL team in Boston, AHL team in Providence and ECHL squad in Portland, Maine.
There had been rumors that the Bruins and Mariners were going to link up (frankly, it made too much sense geographically). That smoke basically became fire when the New York Rangers, previously the Mariners’ affiliate, added Jacksonville as their ECHL team.
The Bruins previously were affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators since the 2015 season. Atlanta had opted out of this past season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Bruins ended up hitching their wagon to the Jacksonville IceMen, the Winnipeg Jets’ affiliate.
While those who play in the ECHL generally have their work cut out for them to get to the NHL, it’s been done hundreds of times. This season alone, Jack Ahcan got a feel for the pro game with a few games in Jacksonville, but ultimately saw some action with Boston during the season.
It’s also common for young goalies to play in the ECHL so they can get a ton of reps, and a large chunk of ECHL alumni in the NHL are netminders.
This will be the first time the Bruins have had their NHL, AHL and ECHL teams in New England since the latter’s founding in 1988.