The Kansas City Mavericks will return to the Mountain Division for the 2018-19 season.
The move was announced Tuesday afternoon by the governing body of the ECHL. Kansas City will join the Allen Americans, Idaho Steelheads, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies and Wichita Thunder as part of the new divisional alignment.
The Mavericks were part of the Central Division in their first two seasons in the ECHL in 2014-15 but moved to the Mountain Division for the 2016-17 season. They returned to the Central Division this season and are currently tied for fourth with the Kalamazoo Wings.
The Wheeling Nailers will take the Mavericks’ spot in the Central Division next season.
The divisional alignment was one of several announcements by the league on Tuesday, including the approval of teams in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Portland, Maine, beginning in the 2018-19 season and the withdrawal of the Quad City Mallards, effective at the end of this season.
“I was contacted early in the process as it was presented as agenda item to the Board of Governors for a future vote,” Mavericks president and general manager Brent Thiessen said when asked about the move. “I spoke with the league several times regarding the move and how it affects KC.
“With the addition of Maine into the league, as well as St John’s, that adds two teams to the North division and allows Wheeling to leave the North and enter the Central. That left us as the ideal candidate to replace Colorado from the Mountain.”
Colorado is leaving for the American Hockey League.
“From a fan standpoint, the difference won’t be who we play in the regular season, but rather in the playoffs, as we play divisional opponents in the first two rounds of the postseason,” Thiessen added.
Despite being in the same division as longtime rivals like Allen and Wichita, the move might not mean more games against those two teams.
“I don’t know that we will play them more because the ECHL has always had an unbalanced schedule,” Thiessen explained. “I think the ability to play them in the playoffs will definitely add to our rivalry and history of playing each other and that is always something you look forward to. Fans can still expect to see opponents from other divisions coming to Independence as they did this year.”