|City||Hoffman Estates, Illinois|
|Home arena||Sears Centre|
|Colors||Navy, Gray, Sky Blue |
|Head coach||Steve Martinson|
|Affiliates||Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) Springfield Falcons (AHL)|
The Chicago Express was a professional ice hockey team located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, serving the Chicago market. The Express was a member of the North Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The team played its home games at the Sears Centre.
On April 6, 2012, it was announced that the Chicago Express would cease operations due to poor attendance numbers and lack of support. The Express finished last in the league for average attendance with 2,508. On some nights, the Express, which also had AHL and NHL competition in the same market, was struggling to get 1,000 spectators at its games.
The team formed out of talks between owner Craig Drecktrah and officials at the Sears Centre. On the heels of the Chicago Hounds folding in 2009 after only playing one season (2006–07) at the Sears Centre, Drecktrah worked with arena and Hoffman Estates village officials to bring in an ECHL franchise. The league approved the franchise's application at the ECHL's annual Board of Governors Meeting in June 2010.
To name the new franchise, the team held a special name the team contest that eventually received over a thousand unique name suggestions. On July 22, the four finalists for the team name were unveiled. They were The Chicago Blizzard, Hoffman Estates Hammers, Chicago Knights and Chicago Express. Voting for the team's name closed on August 4, with Express announced as the winner on September 21. The final four portion of the contest received a total of 20,000 votes.
Under the direction of Steve Martinson, the Express finished with a record of 34-26-8-4, good enough for 80 points and 2nd place in the North Division, 4 points behind the division leading Kalamazoo Wings. However, this was only good enough for 9th in Eastern Conference. They were actually tied with the 8th place Reading Royals points wise, however they missed out on the playoffs because the Royals had more wins.
The Express fold
At the end of the season, the Express folded outright. There were a myriad of reason for this. Firstly, the Express could not hope to compete with the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) and the Chicago Wolves (AHL). The team had no radio and television deals, and were not promoted on those mediums. The team also had a hard time drawing fans to Hoffman Estates from the heart of the city.
The mascot for the Chicago Express was "Trax" the Horse.
All player statistics taken from the ECHL.com.
- Nathan Lutz, 2011–12
- Press release (August 1, 2011). "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting concludes". ECHL. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Selvam, Ashok (June 19, 2010). "Sears Centre to house new hockey team". Daily Herald. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- Press release (July 13, 2011). "Columbus Blue Jackets Announce ECHL Affiliation Agreement Chicago Express for 2011-12". Columbus Blue Jackets. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-04-06.
- Press release (June 24, 2010). "Expansion membership approved for Chicago". ECHL. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- Selvam, Ashok (February 8, 2011). "Sears Centre welcomes new hockey team to town". Daily Herald. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- "BREAKING NEWS: CHICAGO EXPRESS FOLDS AFTER JUST ONE SEASON - Q101 Alternative". Q101 Alternative. 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
- "2011–12 Season Statistics - Chicago Express". ECHL. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2012-04-26.