Photo Courtesy Rich Stieglitz
Former ECHL player and coach Pat Bingham has been named head coach of the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He replaces former ECHL coach and executive Jack Capuano, who was named interim head coach of the New York Islanders on Monday.
Bingham played 143 games in the ECHL with Nashville, Hampton Roads and Richmond from 1989-93 scoring 104 points (36g-68a) and adding 592 penalty minutes. He was a member of Hampton Roads’ 1991 Riley Cup championship team, scoring 15 points (6g-9a) in 14 postseason games.
The 42 year old coached the Wheeling Nailers from 2003-05 posting a record of 89-46-9 (.649 winning percentage) and leading the team to the 2004 North Division championship.
Bingham was an assistant coach with the Sound Tigers during the 2005-06 season, and was in his fourth season in his second stint with the team when he was elevated to the head coaching position.
Twenty-five coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the AHL including Abbotsford Heat head coach Jim Playfair, Albany Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky, Hershey Bears head coach Mark French, Manitoba Moose head coach Cluade Noel, Peoria Rivermen head coach Jared Bednar, Rochester Americans head coach Chuck Weber and Texas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan.
Seven times in the last 10 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including Scott Gordon, Mike Haviland and Kevin Dineen in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Former ECHL coaches won the award four consecutive years from 2001-04 with Don Granato, Bruce Cassidy, Geoff Ward and Claude Noel. The first former ECHL coach to win the award was Peter Laviolette in 1999.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League in 2010-11 and for the past 21 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion. Former ECHL coach Mark French is the head coach of the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears, while former ECHL player and coach Troy Mann is the Bears’ assistant coach.
In the last seven seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,500 players and in 2009-10 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the AHL include Brendan Burke of the Peoria Rivermen, Josh Fisher of the Texas Stars, Josh Heller of the Albany Devils, Mike Kelly of the Springfield Falcons, Eric Lindquist of the Worcester Sharks, Jason Lockhart of the Syracuse Crunch, Joe O’Donnell of the Houston Aeros, Bob Rotruck of the Adirondack Phantoms, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Jason Shaya of the Charlotte Checkers, Dan Weiss of the San Antonio Rampage and Grady Whittenburg of the Binghamton Senators.