Official Idaho Steelheads Website: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/
During the 2003–04 season and since the 2005–06 season the Steelheads have been an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars. From 2005 to 2008, the Steelheads were also affiliated with the American Hockey League's Iowa Stars (now Iowa Chops).The 2009–10 season will see the Texas Stars replace Iowa as Idaho's AHL affiliate. Home games are played at the 5,000-seat Qwest Arena in downtown Boise.
The team was founded by Diamond Sports Management in 1996, headed by Cord Pereira. The Steelheads currently play in the West Division of the ECHL's National Conference.
The Steelheads are named for a species of seagoing rainbow trout native to Idaho streams and rivers and popular with local anglers. The fish was a secondary element in the team's original logo, which was in use through the 2005–06 season. The current Steelheads logo, however, does not include a fish. Instead, it consists of a mountain scene with the wordmark, but the fish is in Idaho's alternate logo.
West Coast Hockey League (1997–2003)Edit
The Steelheads began play as part of a four-team expansion in the West Coast Hockey League in 1997 along with the Tacoma Sabercats, Phoenix Mustangs and Tucson Gila Monsters, which have all since ceased operations. Former New York Islanders defenseman Dave Langevin became Idaho's first head coach. During its inaugural season, in addition to its WCHL schedule the Steelheads played two regular season exhibition games in Boise against the Russian Super League team CKA-Amur (now Amur Khabarovsk). The Steelheads finished third in the WCHL North Division in 1997–98, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Anchorage Aces (now Alaska Aces).
Langevin left the team in 1998 and was replaced as head coach by former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk. Under Malarchuk the Steelheads were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 1998–99 and 1999–2000.
In 2000 Malarchuk was succeeded as head coach by John Olver, who had coached the Tacoma Sabercats to the WCHL championship in 1998–99. The Steelheads reached the WCHL finals in 2000–01 and 2001–02, but were defeated by the San Diego Gulls and Fresno Falcons, respectively.
Although the Steelheads finished with the best record in the WCHL's final season in 2002–03, the Falcons eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs.
In 2003 the WCHL was absorbed by the ECHL and folded. The Steelheads, along with several other WCHL-affiliated teams - namely the Alaska Aces, Bakersfield Condors, Fresno Falcons, Las Vegas Wranglers, Long Beach Ice Dogs and San Diego Gulls - became ECHL members beginning with the 2003–04 season. Idaho won the 2004 Kelly Cup in its first season in the ECHL, defeating the Florida Everblades in the Kelly Cup Finals. The Steelheads were the first team to win the ECHL championship in its first year in the league since the Greensboro Monarchs won the title in the league's second season of operation (1989–90).
In 2004–05 the Steelheads were eliminated in the first round of the ECHL playoffs by the Long Beach Ice Dogs. Olver was succeeded as head coach by Derek Laxdal after the season. In 2005–06 Laxdal guided the team back to the playoffs, but they were eliminated in the second round by the Las Vegas Wranglers.
The Steelheads hosted the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game in Boise. Later that year the Steelheads won their second Kelly Cup by defeating the Stockton Thunder, Las Vegas Wranglers and Alaska Aces in the playoffs, and ultimately the Dayton Bombers in the league finals. Idaho is one of only three active ECHL teams to win multiple league championships, alongside the South Carolina Stingrays and Toledo Walleye (which was then known as the Storm prior to suspending operations in 2007 to build their new arena), each with two. The Hampton Roads Admirals (now in the AHL as Norfolk) won three ECHL championships.