ECHL: From Alabama to Atlanta, the Story of The Atlanta Gladiators Franchise

Credit: Taylor Trebotte/Atlanta Gladiators

Mobile Mysticks

The Atlanta Gladiators franchise got its start as the Mobile Mysticks in 1995. The team would play its home games in the 31 year old Mobile Civic Center. The head coach for the inaugural season was former NHL player Ed Johnstone, who would also lead the Mysticks in their 1996-97 campaign. Johnstone would leave before the 1997-98 season after leading the Mysticks to their first ever playoff appearance. Matt Shaw would take over the team for one year leading the Mysticks to a 35-27-0-8 record and their second consecutive playoff appearance. For the last four years of the Mysticks existence, they were led by a very familiar name to Atlanta Gladiator fans, and that was Jeff Pyle. The Mysticks would go on to make the playoffs three times in a row before missing out in the final year of the franchise’s time in Mobile.

Gwinnett Gladiators

The Mysticks left Mobile after the 2001-02 season and moved 356 miles Northeast to Duluth, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. The move was due to declining attendance and not enough interest in the sport in general. The Gladiators, as they would become known as, would play their home games at Gas South Arena in Gwinnett County. Coach Pyle would also make the trip, becoming the Gladiator’s first head coach. He would have two stints with the team before becoming Director of Hockey Operations in 2023. The Gladiators would find success early, making the Kelly Cup Finals in just their third season in Duluth. They would lose in the final to the Alaska Aces 4-1. The Glads would be the affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers until the Thrashers left for Winnipeg in 2011. The Glads would go on to be the affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, and Ottawa Senators before agreeing to become the Nashville Predators ECHL affiliate starting in 2023.

Atlanta Gladitors

Before the 2015-16 season, the Gladiators rebranded as the Atlanta Gladiators. The move was in part to include all of the surrounding Atlanta area. The rebrand has not been as kind to the Glads with the team only making the playoffs twice since 2015. Former NHL star Anson Carter bought a minority stake in the team in 2022. Last season the Gladiators started hot, taking control of the South Division before the new year. They would fall off the pace and miss the playoffs but still finished with a very respectable 35-30-6-1 record. The Glads kick off the 2023-24 season on October 21st against their in-state rival Savannah Ghost Pirates.

Phil Wilds

Atlanta Gladiators writer for Inside The Rink. Patiently waiting for the 3rd Atlanta NHL team! Follow me on Twitter @PWilds121 for awful takes that you will most certainly disagree with!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights Game 1 Recap | 04/22/2024

The Dallas Stars faced the Vegas Golden Knights in a Western Conference Finals rematch on Monday night. The Stars lost 4-3 to the Golden Knights in Game 1 at the American Airlines Center. Dallas fell to 0-1, while Vegas improved to 1-0. The Stars’ starting lineup featured Radek Faksa, Sam Steel, Evgenii Dadonov, Chris Tanev, […]

Read More

Bruins Lose 3-2, Matthews Scores Go-Ahead Goal | 4/22/2024

In Game Two for the Maple Leafs and Bruins, Toronto edged Boston to finish with a 3-2 victory on Monday, April 22nd at the TD Garden. Auston Matthews struck the go-ahead goal in the third period and also recorded two assists to help the Maple Leafs even their Eastern Conference First-Round series against the Bruins. […]

Read More
Hurricanes celebrate after scoring in game 2

Sinking Island; Hurricanes Storm Back, Beat the Islanders 5-3 | 4/22/2024

Marty McFly once said, “Hey, I’ve seen this one!” That moment happened to everyone, particularly fans of the New York Islanders, who watched game 2 between the Hurricanes and the Islanders, a 5-3 win for Carolina at home in PNC Arena.  Jordan Martinook scored the game-winning goal with 2:06 left in the 3rd period, just […]

Read More