PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Friday announced that the 2011 inductees for the ECHL Hall of Fame are Richard Adams, Phil Berger, Luke Curtin and Joe Ernst.
The four will be formally inducted as the fourth class of the ECHL Hall of Fame at a luncheon ceremony, presented by BFL Canada, that will be held in conjunction with the 2011 ECHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 26, 2011 at the Bakersfield Marriott Hotel, the official host hotel of the 2011 ECHL All-Star Classic.
“This is a special and diverse group of inductees. It includes four individuals who made special contributions to the ECHL, but in very different ways,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “Rick Adams succeeded Pat Kelly as President/CEO of the ECHL and led the League through a period of unprecedented growth. Joe Ernst has dedicated his entire professional life to the ECHL and only Pat Kelly and Nick Vitucci have had a longer association with the League.
“Phil Berger was one of the very first stars of the ECHL and put up impressive numbers in both the regular season and playoffs,” he added. “More recently, Luke Curtin provided fans with a level of skill and consistency which few have matched. This is a very worthy group of inductees.”
Richard Adams joined the ECHL as Vice President of Business Operations prior to the 1994-95 season. The following season, he was named President/CEO, a position he held through the 2001-02 season. Under his leadership, the League executed its first Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, launched ECHL Properties, unveiled a new logo and launched the official League website, ECHL.com. The League grew from 21 members in 1995-96 to 29 in 2001-02, and moved into 17 markets that had never before had professional hockey. Adams was one of the driving forces behind the addition of six former West Coast Hockey League markets during the summer of 2002.
Phil Berger began playing in the ECHL as a rookie in 1989-90 with Greensboro and played nine seasons in the league with Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh and Hampton Roads. He ranks seventh in ECHL history with 599 points and is 11th in both goals (251) and assists (348). His 0.69 goals per game, 0.95 assists per game and 1.64 points per game averages are all fourth-best in league history. Berger led the ECHL in scoring with 130 points (60g-70a) in 1991-92 and with 139 points (56g-83a) in 1993-94. He was named to the All-ECHL Second Team and the ECHL Most Valuable Player in 1991-92 and was named to the All-ECHL First Team in 1993-94. Berger is the ECHL’s all-time leader in postseason scoring with 117 points, is tied for first with 50 postseason goals and is second with 67 postseason assists. He was a member of two Riley Cup championship teams – Greensboro in 1990 and Charlotte in 1996. Berger played in the first two ECHL All-Star Games in 1993 and 1994 and scored three points (2g-1a).
Luke Curtin made his ECHL debut in 1998-99, and went on to play in 501 games over nine seasons with Baton Rouge, Atlantic City and Fresno. He is fifth in ECHL history with 384 assists and 11th with 577 points. Curtin is second all-time with five ECHL All-Star Game appearances (1999, 2000, 2005, 2006 and 2007) and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 ECHL All-Star Game with two goals. He was a member of Atlantic City’s 2003 Kelly Cup championship team and finished tied for second during the Kelly Cup Playoffs with 20 points (2g-18a). Curtin is fourth in ECHL postseason history with 58 assists and is tied for fifth with 75 postseason points. He was an All-ECHL First Team selection in 2003-04 and 2005-06 and was named to the ECHL All-Decade Team for 2000-2010 in a vote of fans on ECHL.com.
Joe Ernst, who is the first inductee in the Referee/Linesman category, is celebrating his 20th season in the ECHL in 2010-11. Ernst spent 16 seasons as a referee with the ECHL beginning in 1991-92, and after retiring was named Assistant Director of Officiating. This season is his second as the Director of Officiating. Ernst officiated 1,061 regular-season games and over 200 postseason games, and is the only referee in ECHL history to have worked over 1,000 games. He was a member of the NHL Trainee Program for seven seasons and worked preseason games in the National Hockey League, as well as games in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League. Ernst was selected to work the 1999 ECHL All-Star Game and worked nine ECHL Finals series (1993-1995 Riley Cup Finals and 2002-2007 Kelly Cup Finals).
The inaugural ECHL Hall of Fame class inducted in 2008 was Henry Brabham, Patrick J. Kelly, Chris Valicevic and Nick Vitucci while the second class in 2009 was John Brophy, Blake Cullen, Tom Nemeth and Rod Taylor. The 2010 ECHL Hall of Fame class was Cam Brown, E.A. “Bud” Gingher, Olaf Kolzig and Darryl Noren. Inductees are enshrined in the ECHL Hall of Fame, which is open around the clock online at ECHLHallOfFame.com, as well as being recognized at the league office in Princeton, N.J. and in the ECHL section at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league, behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has grown from five teams in four states in 1988-89 into a coast-to-coast league with 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia in 2010-11.
Hall of Fame members are selected in four categories: Player, Developmental Player, Builder, and Referee/Linesman. Players must have concluded their career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons, though not continuous or full seasons. Development Players must have began their career in the ECHL and went on to a distinguished career in the NHL, playing a minimum of 260 regular season games in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. Builders may be active or inactive whereas Referee/Linesman must have concluded their active officiating career for a minimum of three playing seasons.
No more than five candidates may be elected to the ECHL Hall of Fame each year with no more than three Players, one Developmental Player, two Builders and one Referee/Linesman. The Developmental Player, Builder and the Referee/Linesman categories are dependent upon the number of candidates in the Player category.
The nomination and/or selection of candidates will be determined by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and its Chairman Patrick J. Kelly.
Only members of the Selection Committee, the Board of Governors, teams or persons affiliated with the ECHL may submit official nominations which must be made in writing to the league office. Fans are encouraged to contact their team to propose names for nomination.
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.
• 450 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10.
• Seven ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: 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 Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 21), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30) and former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11).
• 6 players played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2009-10: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim, Jeremy Duchesne with Kalamazoo and Philadelphia, Tomas Kana with Alaska and Columbus, Dan Sexton with Bakersfield and Anaheim, MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim and Matt Zaba with Charlotte and the New York Rangers.
• The ECHL has had 258 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.
• 194 ECHL players have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of more than 32 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.
• 20 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 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 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, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
• 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.