Toledo Walleye to end affiliation with NHL's Blackhawks

The Toledo Walleye will continue their affiliation with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Toledo Walleye will end their affiliation with the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks at the end of the current ECHL season.

The two teams made the announcement on Tuesday after a five-season affiliation.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship these past five years with the Blackhawks," said Walleye President and General Manager Joe Napoli in a prepared statement.

While the Walleye will continue to serve as the primary ECHL affiliate for the Detroit Red Wings, the Blackhawks will be served by the Indianapolis Fuel. The team is the 23rd franchise to join the ECHL and will begin play in October 2014. "With Indianapolis joining the ECHL next season, their proximity to Chicago is an obvious affiliation fit," said Napoli.

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"The Blackhawks would like to thank Joe Napoli, Nick Vitucci and the entire Toledo Walleye organization and their fans for a successful affiliation over the past five seasons," said Chicago Blackhawks Director of Hockey Administration and General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard. "We appreciate everything the Walleye did to provide so many of our players such a great setting to learn the professional game in."

Vitucci stepped down as head coach of Toledo's ECHL team in February after five years. Assistant coach Dan Watson has stepped in as head coach for the remainder of the season.