Some news from out of the blue tonight in Trenton, where Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian reports that the Flyers' ECHL affiliate, the Trenton Titans, will cease operations for the 2013-14 hockey season.
Ashmore's story suggests that the reason for folding is due in no small part to low attendance figures for the team in its two seasons in Trenton. After being sold, becoming a part of the Flyers' organization, and changing its name from the Devils back to its original name -- the Titans -- in 2011, the team drew just over 3,000 fans per game in its first season under the Flyers' umbrella despite a tough year on-ice with a 21-41-4-6 record.
This year, though the on-ice product improved to a mark of 32-32-4-4, attendance numbers dropped to 2,578* -- well below the goal of 5,500 that Ashmore cites part-owner Tom Curran as having in mind for the team as recently as last summer.
The piece suggests that the team is hoping to be back by the 2014-15 season. Neither Titans GM Rich Lisk nor the ECHL confirmed the report or gave any comment on it.
For the Flyers and their fans, this kinda stinks. Beyond the obvious fact that the organization's ECHL situation is currently in limbo, Trenton was quite a convenient location for both the team and its fans. Less than an hour away from Philadelphia, it was a good place for fans in the area to check out a minor league game, and it was an easy place for the Flyers to work with in the event that they needed to send players between their affiliate and the NHL squad.
Given that the news hasn't been confirmed yet, we won't speculate much on what will come from here for either the Titans or the Flyers. It's worth noting, though, that the only other particularly close-by ECHL squad is the Reading Royals, which already has one NHL affiliation with the Washington Capitals, indicating that the Flyers will either need to split their affiliation or look a bit farther from home.
* NOTE: Ashmore's story uses this number for 2012-13 attendance, but that number appears to be incorrect. He tweeted out the following message last night:
Something I need to clarify, btw...attendance numbers in story, pulled off of league website, are apparently inaccurate.— Mike Ashmore (@mashmore98) April 23, 2013
Hockeydb's numbers peg the Titans as having drawn 3,360 per game this year.