PRINCETON, N.J. – When the National Hockey League season opens on Saturday there will be 21 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon and Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette.
It is the fourth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 355 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07 and 2007-08. There were 333 former ECHL players on National Hockey League training camp rosters including 139 who played in the league last season.
Boudreau coached Mississippi for three seasons and won the Kelly Cup championship in 1999. He was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. The South Carolina Stingrays are the ECHL affiliate for the Capitals.
Gordon played in the ECHL from 1988-94 and on Jan. 30, 1990 became the first ECHL player to play in the NHL when he made his debut with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo. He began his coaching career in the ECHL in 1998-99 and led Roanoke to back-to-back first-place regular season finishes and Kelly Cup Playoff appearances.
Mike Dunham and Daniel Lacroix are assistant coaches for the Islanders. Dunham played with the Gwinnett Gladiators in 2005-06 while Lacroix helped Atlantic City advance to the conference finals in its inaugural season in 2001-02. The Utah Grizzlies are the ECHL affiliate for the Islanders.
Laviolette, who began his coaching career with Wheeling, became the first former ECHL coach to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup when the Carolina Hurricanes won it in 2005-06. He was also head coach of the United States team in the 2006 Olympics. Carolina’s majority owner is Peter Karmanos, Jr., who is part owner of the Florida Everblades in the ECHL, who are the ECHL affiliate of the Hurricanes.
Jerry Dineen, who played for Winston-Salem in 1990-92 and Raleigh in 1991-92, is the video coach for the New York Rangers, whose ECHL affiliate is the Charlotte Checkers.
Dave Farrish is an assistant coach with Anaheim and was the second former ECHL coach to have his named engraved on the Stanley Cup in 2007. He coached Louisiana from 2000-04 and Pensacola in 2004-05 and his winning percentage of .699 (237-94-29) is the highest among coaches who coached more than one season in the ECHL. Farrish was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2001-02 after Louisiana finished 56-12-4 and set league records for wins, points (116) and winning percentage (.806). Joe Trotta, who was an assistant coach for Peoria in 2000-01, is the video coach for the Ducks, whose ECHL affiliate is the Bakersfield Condors.
Mike Haviland and John Torchetti are assistant coaches with the Chicago Blackhawks, whose ECHL affiliate is the Fresno Falcons. Haviland is one of two coaches to lead two different teams to the Kelly championship with Atlantic City in 2003 and Trenton in 2005. Torchetti began his coaching career as an assistant coach with Greensboro and he also played in the ECHL helping Carolina win the inaugural league title.
Peter Horachek, who coached Louisville in 1990-91 and Trenton in 2001-02, is an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators, whose ECHL affiliate is the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Charlie Huddy, who coached Huntington in 1996-97, is an assistant coach for Edmonton, whose ECHL affiliate is the Stockton Thunder.
Jamie Kompon, who played for Hampton Roads in 1989-90 and for Cincinnati and Winston-Salem in 1990-91, is an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings, whose ECHL affiliate is the Ontario Reign.
Brian McCutcheon, who was ECHL Coach of the Year with Columbus (Ohio) in 1996-97, is associate head coach with the Buffalo Sabres.
Jim Playfair is the associate coach and Jaime McLennan is the director of goalie development for the Calgary Flames, whose ECHL affiliate is the Las Vegas Wranglers. Playfair coached Dayton from 1993-96 and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 1994-95 while McLennan began his playing career in the ECHL in 1991-92 with Richmond.
Claude Noel is an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose ECHL affiliate is the Johnstown Chiefs. He is the only coach to be named Coach of the Year in both the ECHL (2002-03) and the American Hockey League (2003-04). Noel led Toledo to the Brabham Cup championship in 2002-03 and was voted by his peers to coach in the ECHL All-Star Game. He began his career in the ECHL as head coach of Roanoke Valley in 1990-91 and was head coach of Dayton from 1991-93.
Corey Schwab is the goalie coach and Jay Woodcroft is an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks, whose ECHL affiliate is the Phoenix RoadRunners. Schwab started his playing career with Cincinnati in 1991-92 while Woodcroft played for Jackson as a rookie in 1999-2000.
Matt Shaw, who was head coach of Mobile in 1997-98, is an assistant coach and the video consultant for the Minnesota Wild while Geoff Ward, who began his coaching career in the ECHL, is an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins.
There are 18 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2008-09 with referees David Banfield, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers. Barton, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock, Rooney and Sharrers all worked the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Watch games live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 23 teams playing 828 games in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
The Reading Royals, the City of Reading and the Sovereign Center will host the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21, 2009 and the 12th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 20, 2009.
The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08 and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,300 call ups involving more than 1,200 players. In each of the last three seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL in the same season.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.