Trenton Titans give ECHL 20 teams (again).

The ECHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the revival of the Trenton Titans on Thursday, giving the temporarily vacated Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey a new tenant, and giving the ECHL 20 teams.

The Trenton Devils, a New Jersey Devils affiliate, ceased operations in July. The Titans will again be the ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, in that capacity replacing the Greenville Road Warriors, which served as the Flyers’ ECHL affiliate during the 2010-11 season.

Trenton joined the ECHL as the Titans in 1999-2000, won the Kelly Cup in 2005, and played their last season as a Flyers affiliate in 2006-07 before the franchise was sold to the Devils.

The team’s new logo looks a lot like their old logo. Maybe the goal is to make it seem like the team never switched affiliates – the Trentionian reported that Flyers fans in the region never embraced the Devils as the parent club.

Winning back the fans might be easier than winning games. The Titans must hire a front office, a head coach, and sign players before training camp opens in October.

Bud Holloway signs in Sweden.

The Manchester Monarchs will have a new leading scorer next season.

Former Reign standout Bud Holloway has signed with Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League for 2011-12. The restricted free-agent right wing declined the Kings’ qualifying offer, at least temporarily ending his tenure with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2006 draft.

In his only ECHL season of 2008-09, Holloway had 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 30 games between the regular season and playoffs for the Reign. Both this season and last, he led the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate in scoring, but the 23-year-old from Wapella, Saskatchewan never got the NHL call-up he desired.

Also, in case you missed it, click here to read today’s story on Chad Starling re-signing.

Chad Starling is healthy and coming back.

Chad Starling’s goal in his fourth season with the Ontario Reign is simple.

“I want to play every game,” he said. “Last year was the first year I got hurt. The year before that I played every game but one. The year before that, I played every game. In Cincinnati, I didn’t miss many games [11 in two years]. In Utah, I played every game. That’s the first goal.”

The team announced Monday that Starling has re-signed for an unprecedented fourth season in Ontario. He might be the only player from the inaugural team who returns but, ironically, the 30-year-old defenseman has a little something to prove.

Starling did not play a game after November of last season because of groin injuries, and underwent two surgeries in January. Starling almost made it back — and said he would have played if the Reign made the playoffs – but ultimately wound up playing just 14 games, easily the shortest of his 10 pro seasons.

Starling said he’ll be healthy to start the season and plans to resume skating in 2-3 weeks.

Since David Walker is playing in Germany and Jon Francisco’s return from knee injury is no sure thing, Starling could be the last player from the original Reign squad still in Ontario. That could make him the logical choice for team captain, a role he held from 2006-08 with the Cincinnati Cyclones.

More on Starling’s health, his thoughts on the captaincy, and what the Reign needs to do to get back on the playoffs, in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

More on Erickson, Kraemer.

Today’s story on Beau Erickson and Kyle Kraemer re-signing with the Reign left little room to explore a couple interesting tangents.

1. Erickson has been working with Milwaukee-based sports psychologist Curtis Brackenbury for the first time this summer.

“He came highly recommended from some guys in St. Louis as well as [Anaheim Ducks goalie] Danny Ellis,” Erickson said. “We talk every week, talk on some things that help my game, reasons certain things help out there, to enhance what I get out of practice, team situations … the way I prepare, handle certain situations — things like that. It’s matured my game.”

Erickson said that Brackenbury also counts Ellis, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a number of recent NHL draftees, and some members of the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars among his current clients.

Reign coach Karl Taylor said that it’s essential for goalies to have a short memory — for example, after they’ve allowed a goal or played a bad game. “Everyone’s looking for an edge,” he said. “If that gives Beau an edge, we support it 100 percent.”
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Erickson, Kraemer give Reign four signed players.

Beau Erickson and Kyle Kraemer have re-signed with the Reign, the team announced today, bringing the 2011-12 roster into a bit more focus.

Erickson was a trouper during a rough season and his final numbers (3.39 goals-against average, .906 save percentage) reflect that. But after losing his first five starts, the 25-year-old from Iowa went 11-7-1-2 to finish the season. He and Jase Weslosky — along with Jason Fredricks, one of two signings announced last week — give the Reign two goalies under contract to start the season.

While it would be a shame to lose the only known Reign-themed goalie mask in existence, Erickson said Tuesday that he’s also looking latch on in an AHL or even an NHL training camp.

If that doesn’t happen, he’s not worried about being thrust into a goalie competition in Ontario – even if the Kings assign J-F Berube to the Reign. “Competition is good. It’s healthy. I’m not too concerned about it,” Erickson said.

Kraemer was at times a complimentary player, at other times a star on a Reign team starved for scoring, finishing with 16 goals and 37 points in 54 games. He spent part of his summer honing his skills in the Czech Republic for the U.S. Inline Hockey team, falling short to the host country in the gold-medal game.

“My goals are to A, be consistent. B, help our team win every night and C, get called up eventually,” he said.

More from both players in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Two new coaches, possible new teams, and the State of the Team.

The story all of you have been clamoring for – OK, just some of you – is set to run in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. The topic, in all its blunt glory: What’s wrong with the Reign that they are still not making money after three years, and have missed the playoffs the last two?

Justin Kemp talked about making changes – not wholesale changes, but at least one controversial change. The first rule of journalism, unofficially, is that there’s nothing quite like a good controversy to shake up a lazy midweek afternoon. When the state of the team isn’t great, it’s not hard.

Kemp said many interesting but non-controversial things, like this:
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Karl Taylor on Weslosky, Fredricks.

Here are the links to yesterday’s story about the signing of Jase Weslosky and Jason Fredricks: in the Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun. I had the chance to speak to Karl Taylor about both players this morning.

(Before getting into his quotes, however, a disclaimer: Taylor said not to read into the fact that Weslosky and Fredricks were the first signings announced. David Walker was the first signing announced prior to Year 1, Jon Francisco the following year, and Tim Kraus and Francisco the next. Still, yesterday’s announcement doesn’t mean that Fredricks is going to be named captain, that Weslosky is going to be the number-one goalie all season, or that better players aren’t still coming down the pipe.)

Upward and onward …
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“Out of left field,” the Trenton Devils fold.

The ECHL is a 19-team league again.

That was the relatively surprising news today with word out of Trenton, New Jersey, that the Devils’ ECHL farm team had ceased operations. 

The Trenton Devils finished last in the ECHL in attendance last season at 2,390 per game. The Reign, by contrast, finished first at 6,683.

The official release on the league’s website didn’t offer many details, other than that “the ECHL is in the process of reviewing potential options for the Trenton Membership for the 2011-12 season while simultaneously working on a revised schedule.”

Reign president Justin Kemp said that the league has two options: take the Devils off the schedule entirely, or “find new ownership to take it over quickly, which is probably a longshot at this point given the timeframe.” Training camps will open in October.

Kemp said the Devils’ demise was not a long time coming.

“It was brought up to us for the first time at the last Board of Governors meeting” less than a month ago, he said. “It caught us out of left field.”

Kemp said that Trenton’s folding shouldn’t affect the Reign beyond eliminating one possible Kelly Cup Finals opponent.

Reign qualify eight.

Eight players received qualifying offers from the Reign on Friday: Aaron Lewadniuk, Jordan Morrison, Luke Beaverson, Jordan Hill, Lane Caffaro, Brett O’Malley, Pat Bowen and C.J. Stretch.

Some things to remember:

• The Reign have probably already re-signed some other players, so these eight players are not the starting point for next year’s roster. All we know is that none of them have signed a contract yet.

• The qualifying offer remains open until August 1, or until it is accepted by the player, during which time he cannot be traded.

• History tells us that most guys will either decline their offers, or somehow wind up playing elsewhere. For example, in 2009 the Reign qualified eight players and only three (Mike Howe, Andrew Martens, Dan Knapp) wound up playing in Ontario the following season. Darren McMillan, Jason Techjma, Dale Reinhardt, Dusty Collins and Kellen Briggs all moved on. In 2010, two qualified players came back (Mike Zacharias and James McEwan), and the other six (Greg Hogeboom, Jon Rheault, Geoff Walker, Curtis Darling Peter Lenes and Chris Curran) moved on.

• Players that were not signed by today or extended a qualifying offer become unrestricted free agents.

• The ECHL allows up to eight players to be qualified.