Official Reading Royals Website: http://www.royalshockey.com/
The Reading Royals were formed in 1991 as the expansion franchise Columbus Chill. David Paitson was team's first President/General Manager and former NHL player Terry Ruskowski, the head coach, started the team with a goal of introducing new audiences to the sport of ice hockey and building a strong fan base. The two were successful with the help of an extensive marketing plan. The Chill's 83-game sellout streak beginning in early January 1992 still stands as a minor league hockey record today. It would take the team two seasons to reach the playoffs, doing so in 1994 under coach Ruskowski. The Chill would go on to win two conference championships and make the playoffs for five of the eight seasons.
The Chill were a key part of the growth of hockey in Columbus, Ohio and paved the way for the NHL expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. The 1998–99 season would be the franchise's final season as the team was voluntarily suspended to be moved to Reading, Pennsylvania to make room for the Jackets.
The move created big changes for the franchise, In 2001 the franchise returned to active status in the ECHL with a new name and colors, the Reading Royals became the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings/Manchester Monarchs. The team's first entrance into the Kelly Cup Playoffs came in 2004 while in their third season, when they won the North Division Championship under head coach Derek Clancey. Then during the next season, they became the North Division Regular Season Champions, only to lose to the eventual Kelly Cup Champion, Trenton Titans in the North Division Finals.
Under coach Karl Taylor, the Royals had generally mediocre performance in regular season and post-season play. For three seasons straight, the Royals were unable to play past the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
2007–2008 was another story. Skaters Dany Roussin and Brock Hooton enjoyed some fame in Reading due to their "goal-a-game" nature for much of the season, while tough-guys Steven Later and Malcolm MacMillian were among league leaders in penalty minutes. After a strong finish to a boring regular season, Taylor led the team to the North Division Finals where their tour ended in a heated 7-game battle with the unstoppable Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones continued on to sweep past other teams to win the cup, but the Royals were the only team to take them to seven games in the playoffs.
Some better-known players to come out the Reading Royals organization include Los Angeles Kings goaltenders Barry Brust and Jon Quick, goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji, Phoenix Coyotes winger Ryan Flinn, and Anaheim Ducks winger George Parros, who was the first Royal to appear in the Stanley Cup finals. Veteran Larry "The Legend" Courville and former head coach Derek Clancey have also contributed to the Royals organization.
The end of an era; a new dawn in ReadingEdit
The 2007–2008 season would be Karl Taylor's last with the Royals organization. In late June 2008, General Manager Gordon Kaye announced that Taylor will leave Reading to serve as coach for the new Ontario Reign of the ECHL for 08–09. The Royals were left without a coach, and had not yet announced any prospects.
In a press conference on July 9, 2008, the Royals organization announced that they are now the primary ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the secondary ECHL affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings for the 2008–2009 season. The Royals continue to wear their colors of purple, black, and silver
The Sovereign Center and the city of Reading, Pennsylvania are also the hosts of the 2009 All-Star Game and Skills Challenge for the ECHL. During this exciting upcoming season, as an affiliate of a team with great history, the Royals plan to highlight the rich tradition of hockey in Reading - as well as Toronto, an Original Six team.
Gordon Kaye (GM) has a great feeling about what is to come. "We believe that this relationship [with Toronto] will provide us with the best opportunity to give our fans what they want and deserve - an ECHL championship."
On July 24, 2008, Reading announced that Jason Nobili will be head coach for the 2008–2009 season. Unfortunately, Nobili was unable to coax much from the team and was dismissed by Kaye on January 6, 2009, with the team mired in last place overall in the ECHL. Larry Courville was named as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
On April 4th of 2009, General Manager Gordon Kaye announced that Courville will return for the 2009–2010 season as full-time head coach.