Twelve of the 25 coaches behind ECHL benches are in their first season with their team, but six of those are not strangers to the league.
Although he is new in Johnstown, Frank Anzalone is not a stranger to the ECHL and he ranks third all-time in the league in wins with 269 and games coached with 493 while his eight seasons ties him for third. Taking over in Pensacola for Dave Farrish, who accepted an assistant coaching job with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, is Rick Adduono, who led South Carolina to the Kelly Cup Championship in 2001 and who ranks fourth all-time in the league with 238 wins.
The Stockton Thunder takes the ice for their first season with Chris Cichocki, who is 127-122-39 in four ECHL seasons. Bob Ferguson, who was 136-61-15 and led Florida to the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of its first three seasons, takes over in Augusta as the Lynx look to return to the postseason for the first time since 2000-01.
Matt Thomas, who was 42-22-8 and led Atlantic City to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in his first season behind the bench in 2004-05, steps behind the bench for Fresno. Jason Christie comes to the first-year Utah Grizzlies from Peoria where he was 217-101-42 and advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs four times in five seasons. The 217 wins are the most in the 23-year history of Peoria hockey.
Coaching their first seasons in the ECHL are Ted Dent in Columbia, Derek Laxdal in Idaho, Ron Filion in Phoenix, Karl Taylor in Reading, Doug McKay in Trenton and Glenn Patrick in Wheeling.
Dent takes over for the Inferno after working as an assistant coach for Trenton and helping the team win the 2005 Kelly Cup Championship. Laxdal, who began his coaching career as a player-assistant with Roanoke of the ECHL in 1994-95, coached Wichita of the Central Hockey League for two and a half seasons after one and a half seasons as an assistant with Odessa of the CHL.
The expansion Phoenix RoadRunners are coached by Filion, who was an assistant coach with Augusta in 1999-2000 and has coached professional hockey in both the United States and France. In Reading, Taylor replaces Derek Clancey, who became an assistant coach with Manchester of the American Hockey League after leading Reading to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Taylor rebuilt the men’s ice hockey program at the University of Waterloo, helping the team reach the postseason in both seasons he was behind the bench.
Taking over in Trenton for Haviland, who became head coach of the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL, is McKay, who returns to North America after over 10 years abroad coaching in Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. McKay was an assistant coach in the NHL for Toronto and New Jersey and was head coach for three seasons in the International Hockey League and one season with Binghamton of the AHL. Patrick takes over behind the bench in Wheeling for Pat Bingham, who became an assistant coach with Bridgeport of the AHL. Patrick coached Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL from 1999-2003 leading the team to the finals in 2001.
The veteran bench boss of the league remains John Marks, who is entering his eighth season with Greenville and his league-record 13th season as an ECHL head coach. Marks, who coached Charlotte from 1993-98, has coached 846 regular season games and begins the season needing 32 games to tie the league record of 878 held by John Brophy, for whom the league’s Coach of the Year award is named. Marks is 230-224-46 with Greenville and 421-344-81 overall and ranks second to Brophy in wins (480). Marks and Brophy share the distinction of being the only coaches in history to coach a team to both the Jack C. Riley Cup and the Patrick J. Kelly Cup while Marks and Mike Haviland are the only coaches to lead two different teams to the ECHL title. Marks led Charlotte to the Riley Cup Championship in 1996 and coached Greenville to the Kelly Cup Championship in 2002.
The second-longest tenured coach in the league is Gerry Fleming, who has led Florida to the Kelly Cup Finals each of the past two years. Fleming is 151-95-42 in the regular season and has led the Everblades to the Kelly Cup Playoffs all four years he has been behind the bench.
Jeff Pyle returns for his third season in Gwinnett where he is 82-46-16 with back-to-back postseason appearances. In six seasons as an ECHL coach, Pyle is 219-159-50 and has reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs in every season but one. Glen Gulutzan is 74-55-15 in two seasons with Las Vegas while Martin St. Amour returns for his second year in San Diego, which finished 35-29-8 in 2004-05.
In his first full season with Charlotte in 2004-05, Derek Wilkinson was 39-26-7 as the Checkers reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years and had their longest postseason run in nine seasons.
Nick Vitucci was named Coach of the Year in 2004-05 after Toledo returned to the Kelly Cup Playoffs after finishing 41-26-5 in his first full season behind the bench. Vitucci, who played for Toledo from 1993-95, has won more ECHL titles than anyone, four as a player and one as an assistant coach. In his fourth season as head coach and his eighth season behind the bench for South Carolina, Jason Fitzsimmons, who is 120-74-22 with three straight postseason appearances, won a Kelly Cup title as a player for the Stingrays in 1997 and as an assistant coach for Adduono in 2001.
Davis Payne returns for his third season in Alaska, where he is 83-47-14 with back-to-back appearances in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. In five seasons as an ECHL coach, Payne is 187-114-31 and has never failed to reach the postseason.
Malcolm Cameron returns for his second season in Long Beach after leading the Ice Dogs to a 43-20-9 record and the division finals in 2004-05. Long Beach had 95 points which was a 44-point improvement from their expansion season in 2003-04. Returning for his second full season as head coach of Bakersfield is Marty Raymond, who led the Condors to a 40-22-10 record and a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs in 2004-05. Raymond was hired as an associate coach in February 2002 and the Condors are 117-89-29 with him behind the bench.
Returning for his second season as owner and coach for Dayton is Don MacAdam, who has a career record of 146-112-35 in six ECHL seasons, while Bryan Maxwell and the Victoria Salmon Kings will look to improve on their inaugural season.