The NHL's Los Angeles Kings are now overseeing the operations of the Eisbären Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League. This comes towards the end of another disappointing regular season for the former German champions.
The arrangement announced by the top brass of the NHL team and the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) team on Tuesday, is designed to deepen the already existing cooperation between the two clubs, both of which are owned and operated by the US-based Anschutz Entertainment Group.
"The results the last few years in Berlin have not been the championship standards that we all expect," Luc Robitaille, the Los Angeles Kings' president responsible for business operations, told reporters at Berlin's Mercedes-Benz Arena.
"It became clear that our relationship needs to go beyond collaboration and move to a complete connection to ensure the team and organization has what it needs to return this club to the type of team our fans expect and have demonstrated passionate support for," added Robitaille (pictured above, second from left), who has been appointed president of Eisbären Berlin's board of directors.
This means that the Eisbären Berlin's managing director, Peter John Lee (above, second from right), will now report directly to Robitaille.
"This is an exciting day for Eisbären Berlin hockey," Lee, a former NHL and DEL star said. "We have shared a long, collaborative relationship with Luc and the LA Kings for several years, but to now have them aboard in an official capacity will allow us to merge our efforts with the goal of returning Eisbären Berlin to a championship level."
It's not clear how much player movement between the new arrangement could lead to between the Kings and the Eisbären. However, the DEL's managing director, Gernot Tripcke sought to allay fears of some Eisbären fans that their club could wind up being a feeder team for the Kings, with talented players moving to the NHL club.
"Due to the transfer rules, moving players back and fourth won't be possible," Tripcke told the SID news agency.
The change comes with the Eisbären in danger of missing the post season altogether, as they are clinging to 10th spot in the DEL standings with three games left in the season. This would put them into the preliminary round of the playoffs, which is contested by the teams that finish the regular season between seventh and 10th place.
The move also comes almost a year after Anschutz shut down the other DEL team that it had operated for several years, the Hamburg Freezers.
The Eisbären have been the most successful club since the DEL replaced the old ice hockey Bundesliga in 1994, having won the title seven times, most recently in 2013.