“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.