The Rapid City Rush announced Friday afternoon that the team and the Minnesota Wild have mutually agreed to end their affiliation prior to the 2018-19 ECHL season.
“After weeks of negotiations, we collectively decided to mutually part ways in our affiliation with the Minnesota Wild,” said Rush President Joe Macdonell. “I would like, on behalf of our organization, to thank the Wild for their partnership this last year, and for allowing us to aid in the development of some of their top prospects. At this time, we are continuing to evaluate our options regarding NHL affiliation for next season.”
Rush coach Daniel Tetrault also thanked the Wild for last season's partnership, but he looks forward to the future.
“As a first-year head coach last season, it was a pleasure to work with some of their top prospects,” he said. “I hope to see some of them play in the NHL one day. They are immensely gifted players and I wish them the very best moving forward.”
Both teams served as affiliates for the first time this last season, which saw a number of Minnesota Wild prospects wear a Rush uniform, including 2018 ECHL All-Star Dante Salituro, Gustav Bouramman, who earned an end-of-season AHL call-up to the Iowa Wild and Matt Caito, who played for both the Wild and Rush on a consistent basis throughout the season.
Rush officials declined to comment beyond what was said in the release.
At a forum hosted by the Rush Wednesday with season ticket holders, the affiliation with Minnesota was a commonly brought up topic. Multiple fans voiced displeasure with the way Rush players were called up to Minnesota's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild, when they would start to see success. Others said it was good to see players that could potentially make the NHL make stops in Rapid City.
"Selfishly we want to see them play here and be the best they can be for us," Rush owner Luke Peterson said during the forum. "I like to see people grow, it’s good for them, but we get caught in that middle ground."
The Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks currently don't have a ECHL affiliation.
After the forum Peterson said he was happy with the affiliation.
"We’re negotiating with Minnesota in talks to add another year. I like the idea of the affiliation, but we need to make it so its fruitful for both of us," he said Wednesday. "It was pretty stagnant until the draft got over, since then there’s been some talks since then but I can’t say when exactly that will be."
The Rush were unaffiliated during their years with the Central Hockey League, but once they joined the ECHL they became affiliated with the Arizona Coyotes for two season before signing on with Minnesota last year.
Affiliation also gave Rapid City its first player to make it to the NHL, as Marek Langhamer debuted for the Coyotes in 2017.