In 2017, roughly two months into the season, the Nashville Predators cut ties with the Norfolk Admirals ECHL affiliate and have been without an ECHL affiliate in their organization, and have now found their new affiliate: the Florida Everblades.
Starting in the 2019-2020 season, this will no longer be the case for the Nashville Predators as they have partnered with the Florida Everblades to be their ECHL affiliate.
This is great news for the organization as they will have a home for prospects and coaches to grow from within. We now ask the important question that most people outside of Estero, FL have asked, “who exactly are the Florida Everblades”?
In 1997, the Hartford Whalers relocated their hockey team to Raleigh, North Carolina to become what is known today as the Carolina Hurricanes.
The next year, the Florida Everblades were formed by Craig Brush, who is their current President and owner, Peter Karmanos Jr, and Thomas Thewes and they partnered with the Hurricanes to be their ECHL affiliate, a relationship that stood for 21 years.
While the transition from the Carolina Hurricanes organization to the Nashville Predators organization did come to a shock to some, David Poile, GM of the Predators had these positive statements to say, “We are incredibly excited to have the Florida Everblades as a developmental affiliate.
Led by President and GM Craig Brush, the Everblades have established themselves as one of the best franchises in the ECHL and have a proven track record of developing players. They’ve been a model of consistency in their league and we look forward to seeing them take an active role in the success of the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals.”
Calling the Everblades one of the most successful ECHL teams in the last 21 years comes as an understatement looking back at their organization’s successes.
The Everblades have only missed the Kelly Cup Playoffs once in their 21 years of existence in 2013-2014 coming short by 2 points. They have been to the Kelly Cup finals 4 times most recently being the 2017-2018 season and won the cup back in 2011-2012 over the Las Vegas Wranglers.
The current head coach is Brad Ralph who will be going into his 4th season with the team. Brad was a player from 1995 to 2008, mainly staying in the ECHL however he did reach the NHL with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2000.
Brad became a Player Assistant Coach in 2008 for the ECHL Charlotte Checkers after his hockey playing career ended and continued to progress his career as the head coach for multiple teams such as the Augusta Riverhawks, Kelowna Rockets, and Idaho Steelheads.
As far as players go for the upcoming year, the Everblades twitter account was very gracious to teach me about player contracts and what to expect:
This tells us that players that have a contract through the Carolina Hurricanes will be removed from the team to move to their new ECHL affiliate. This leaves the Everblades with players under an ECHL contract and any players that the Nashville Predators organization have under their control.
Knowing random information about teams are what separates the normal fans from the super fans. Did you know the Everblades mascot is an alligator called Swampee? How about the fact that the team’s colors, navy blue, green and white were chosen by Peter Karmanos Jr. in memory of the Hartford Whalers! Notable players to make it to the NHL that played for the Everblades are Jared Staal, Anton Khudobin, and Scott Darling. Last but not least, the team’s arena is in Estero, FL and is named Hertz Arena.
It is an honor to have the Florida Everblades be part of the Nashville Predators organization. We hope to see their successful franchise continue to flourish and to hopefully bring home the Kelly Cup once again.