The Washington Times - July 9, 2012, 11:35AM

The Capitals enjoy Hershey’s proximity so that prospects from the American Hockey League can make it to Washington in short order. Now those going up and down from the AHL and ECHL will have the same benefit.

The Caps on Monday announced a new ECHL affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals, who are based two hours northwest of Philadelphia and an hour east of Hershey.

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“I think the thing with Reading is proximity. It allows us the ability to, I guess, keep better track of some of our prospects down there,” Hershey Bears coach Mark French said. “You remove the travel so the ability to get guys back and forth is probably a little bit of a no-brainer.”

The previous affiliation was with the South Carolina Stingrays for the past eight seasons. Goaltenders Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer are among the players who spent time in South Carolina.

The Royals’ most recent affiliation was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s ending with the Caps taking over, as is the Boston Bruins’ secondary agreement.

Reading coach and director of hockey operations Larry Courville is the guest coach for this week’s Caps development camp. He appeared in 33 NHL games in the Vancouver Canucks and 49 with the Bears of the AHL.

“We’re hoping it’s going to make it easier on us. With the travel being less to get players back and forth it makes sense. And I think it makes sense for Washington,” Courville said. “So I think it will be a great thing for all three organizations.”