PRINCETON, N.J. – Twenty-seven former ECHL players took the ice on opening night in the National Hockey League, including Derek Boogaard and George Parros who each made their debut becoming the 257th and 258th players to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL. Boogaard skated eight shifts in Minnesota’s 6-3 win against Calgary and Parros had five penalty minutes and eight shifts in Los Angeles’ 5-4 loss at Dallas.
In addition to the 27 who took the ice, former ECHL goaltenders Mike Morrison, Jason LaBarbera, Johan Hedberg and Jamie McLennan dressed as backups. The 27 does not include Curtis Brown, Scott Gomez, Phillipe Sauve and Mark Smith, who all played in the ECHL during the lockout in 2004-05. The ECHL had 12 assistant coaches and one head coach behind the benches on Wednesday as well as seven former referees and five former linesmen working on opening night. The Premier “AA” Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League.
In his first professional season in 2002-03, the 23-year-old Boogaard had 240 penalty minutes and three points (1g-2a) in 33 regular season games and also played in two Kelly Cup Playoff games for the Louisiana IceGators. In 2003-04 with Houston of the American Hockey League, the 6-foot-7 and 250-pound Boogaard had a team-leading 207 penalty minutes and four assists in 53 regular season games and 16 penalty minutes and one assist in two playoff games. Selected in the seventh round (202nd overall) by Minnesota in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he led Houston with 259 penalty minutes, the fourth-highest total in team history, and five points (1g-4a) in 56 regular season games and 38 penalty minutes in five playoff games in 2004-05.
The 25-year-old Parros had nine penalty minutes in three games with Reading in 2004-05 before being recalled to Manchester of the AHL where he had 247 penalty minutes and 22 points (14g-8a) in 67 regular season games and two points (1g-1a) and 27 penalty minutes in six playoff games. Selected in the eighth round (222nd overall) by Los Angeles in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-5 and 232-pound Parros has 380 penalty minutes and 32 points (17g-15a) in 133 regular season games and two points (1g-1a) and 31 penalty minutes in 11 playoff games with Manchester.