PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced that the Board of Governors has approved the Expansion Membership application of the Colorado Eagles for admission to the ECHL. The addition of the Eagles will expand the League to 20 teams for the 2011-12 season.
Colorado will begin play in October when the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League will celebrate its 24th season, making it the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
Colorado plays its home games at the Budweiser Events Center, a 5,289-seat building located in Loveland, Colorado, which opened in 2003. Colorado has been a member of the Central Hockey League since the 2003-04 season, and has sold out every regular season and playoff game in team history. The team’s 311 consecutive sellouts is an all-time record for minor league professional hockey.
The Eagles have advanced to the postseason in each of their eight seasons, winning Central Hockey League championships in 2004-05 and 2006-07 and advancing to the league finals in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2010-11. The organization has donated over $1 million to the Northern Colorado community since its inception through the Colorado Eagles foundation.
“We are pleased to welcome the Colorado Eagles to the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “The Eagles strong fan support, community involvement and history of on-ice success make them an excellent addition to our Western Conference. Team ownership and management have built an exceptional brand and business organization over the past decade. We are proud to have them as the newest Member of the ECHL.”
“We’ve enjoyed our time and many successes in the Central Hockey League,” said Eagles President Chris Stewart. “In fact, they’re the impetus that’s allowed us to be granted a spot in the ECHL. The Central Hockey League has helped us form the strong foundation that is allowing us to take this next step as an organization.
“With that being said, this move is something we believe we’re ready to make as an organization,” continued Stewart. “We’re energized by the challenges that the ECHL will present, and are confident we’ll be able to continue to be successful at the higher level.”
“This move will only bring bigger and better things to our fans, corporate partners and the Northern Colorado community as a whole,” said Eagles CEO Martin Lind. “Thanks to all of them, and the support of our ownership group, the Colorado Eagles’ business model has proven to be unequivocally successful at the CHL level. We can’t wait to try and match that success in the ECHL, and I have all the confidence in the world that the Northern Colorado community will continue to help us do so.”
With the addition of Colorado and the Chicago Express, who were announced as an expansion membership last summer, the ECHL will play with 20 teams in 2011-12, an increase from 19 in the 2010-11 season. The ECHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the withdrawal of the Victoria Salmon Kings membership last month.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” 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 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia in 2010-11.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 466 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10.
• 23 ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Idaho Steelheads goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Richard Bachman (Dallas on Dec. 11), former Minnesota Wild defenseman Drew Bagnall (Minnesota on April 8), former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell (St. Louis on Dec. 15), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Mark Dekanich (Nashville on Dec. 18), former South Carolina Stingrays left wing Stefan Della Rovere (St. Louis on Dec. 1), former Phoenix RoadRunners center Andrew Desjardins (San Jose on Jan. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender and 2007 ECHL All-Star Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati on Dec. 30), former Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Brian Fahey (Washington on Oct. 16), former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Braden Holtby (Washington on Nov. 7), former Charlotte Checkers right wing Hugh Jessiman (Florida on Feb. 27), former Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Utah Grizzlies goaltender Mikko Koskinen (New York Islanders on Feb. 8), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Utah Grizzlies goaltender Nathan Lawson (New York Islanders on Dec. 18), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum (Detroit on March 30), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays center and two-time ECHL All-Star Travis Morin (Dallas on Jan. 26), former Johnstown Chiefs and Cincinnati Cyclones forward Chris Mueller (Nashville on Dec. 28), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Timo Pielmeier (Anaheim on Feb. 19), former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11), former Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player James Reimer (Tortonto on Dec. 20) and former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Yann Sauve (Vancouver on Feb. 15).
• 4 players have played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2010-11: Mike Brodeur with Elmira and Ottawa, Thomas McCollum with Toledo and Detroit, Timo Pielmeier with Elmira and Anaheim and Yann Sauve with Victoria and Vancouver.
• The ECHL has had 274 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years.
• 210 ECHL players have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of 35 per year.
• ECHL had a record 79 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2010-11, surpassing the 78 from 2009-10 and marking the eighth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team in 2010-11 and the league has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 14th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 30 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne. It is the sixth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award.
• 21 former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, 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, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers..
• ECHL was represented for the 10th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coaches Mike Haviland and John Torchetti, developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard and scout Ryan Stewart. There were 35 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fifth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the seventh consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former Hampton Roads Admirals left wing Andrew Brunette became the first ECHL alum to play in 1,000 regular-season NHL games when he reached the milestone with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 1, 2011.
• ECHL was represented in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game by Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, while former ECHL coaches Mike Haviland and Peter Laviolette served as coaches for the All-Star Game.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• 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.
• The ECHL averaged 4,486 fans per game in 2009-10, the highest single-season average since 1999-00, and is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last three seasons. It is the sixth consecutive season and the 18th time in the last 20 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 17th year in a row.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.