Bloomington Bison Announce Affiliation with NY Rangers & New Head Coach

Photo: Justin Boyd | Inside The Rink

If you’re a hockey fan in Central Illinois, there’s a good chance your NHL allegiance lies either with the Chicago Blackhawks or the St. Louis Blues. From Bloomington, the United Center is just shy of two hours and twenty minutes (135 miles) away, and the Enterprise Center in St. Louis is just over two hours and twenty minutes (162 miles) away. However, next season, there may be cheers for a team a bit further away. Over 800 miles away, or more than 13 hours by car, is the new parent club to the Bloomington Bison: the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers, one of the original six teams of the National Hockey League, have named the Bloomington expansion team their newest double-A affiliate in the ECHL.

At a press conference held today, the Bloomington Bison welcomed the new partnership between the historic NHL team and the new, highly anticipated Bison team. ECHL affiliations serve as important development levels for young hockey players looking to debut in the NHL. They can also serve as a place to help NHL players work back from injury. For the affiliate club, it provides a sense of credibility and opportunity when attracting players, and a new level of excitement for fans who could be watching someone in downtown Bloomington who could later that season be suited up in the classic Rangers blue sweater playing in the big leagues.

Bison Chairman Jim Hallett announced at the press conference, “We signed a 5-year agreement with the Rangers,” to a crowd of press, fans, and local business leaders at Grossinger Motors Arena during an 11 am press conference. Hallett emphasized, “The thing I’m most committed to is developing young hockey players.”

In addition to Hallett, the crowd heard from Bloomington City Manager Jeff Jurgens, City Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, and Director of Hockey Operations for the New York Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, Matt Harlow. During Harlow’s comments, he assured Bloomington fans that the Rangers are invested in the community. “We will not be a passive affiliate; we will have a presence in the community,” said Harlow.

Photo: Justin Boyd | Inside The Rink
Photo: Justin Boyd | Inside The Rink
Photo: Justin Boyd | Inside The Rink

Former NHL forward Stephan Matteau was also on hand representing the New York Rangers. Matteau, who played for 13 years in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994, spoke about how special the New York Rangers were as an organization and how excited they are as a club to be partnering with the Bloomington Bison. Matteau stayed around after the press conference to sign autographs for the public but mentioned he had to get back to New York tonight for game 5 of the conference finals where the Rangers are facing the Florida Panthers.

Jim Hallett also announced the first bench boss in franchise history: Phillip Barski will serve as the head coach of the team. The native of Richmond Hill, ON, spent the last two seasons on the staff of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. During his comments to the crowd, he described himself as a quiet introvert from Ontario who found his calling in coaching.

The Bloomington Bison kick off their inaugural season this fall.

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Running it Back
  2. Guest Will Wright
  3. There's more to come……….Right ?
  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
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