PRINCETON, N.J. – For the 22nd year in a row the ECHL is represented on the American Hockey League champion as six of the 28 players who played for Binghamton in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs played in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League. The head coach of the Senators is former ECHL coach Kurt Kleinendorst, who was ECHL Coach of the Year with Raleigh in 1993.
There have been 64 former ECHL players on the last five AHL winners and 82 former ECHL players on the last seven champions.
The ECHL has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL the last 10 years and in the past nine seasons there have been more ECHL players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined.
The Elmira Jackals are the ECHL affiliate for Binghamton and Patrick Coulombe, Mike Hoffman, David Sloane and Brennan Turner all played for Elmira this season. Coulombe played with Victoria the previous four seasons while Sloane has also seen ECHL time with Kalamazoo (2009-10) and Cincinnati (2001-11). Turner also played in the ECHL with Fresno (2008-09) and Gwinnett (2008-09 and 2010-11).
Kleinendorst is the seventh former ECHL coach to win the Calder Cup championship joining Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), Jim Playfair (Saint John, 2001), Claude Noel (Milwaukee, 2004), Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006), Bob Woods (Hershey, 2009) and Mark French (Hershey, 2010).
Other former ECHL personnel with the Senators are equipment manager Tom Severance and broadcaster Grady Whittenburg.
Seven of the 24 players on runner-up Houston had ECHL experience with Drew Bagnall (Reading, 2007-08), Jean-Michel Daoust (Cincinnati, 2006-08), Matt Kassian (Texas, 2007-08), Pascal Morency (Wheeling, 2004-06 and Bakersfield, 20101-11), Maxim Noreau (Texas, 2007-08), Warren Peters (Idaho, 2003-05) and Josh Tordjman (Phoenix, 2006-07 and Bakersfield, 2010-11)
Former ECHL player and executive Jim Mill is the Aeros’ general manager. Other former ECHL personnel with the Aeros are head athletic trainer Jody Green and broadcaster Joe O’Donnell.
Seven times in the last 11 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including Scott Gordon and Mike Haviland in 2006 and 2007. 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.
For the fourth season in a row at least nine former ECHL players were named Reebok/AHL Player of the Week with former Idaho Steelheads goaltender Richard Bachman, former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2008 ECHL Most Valuable Player David Desharnais, former Greenville Grrrowl goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, former Stockton Thunder right wing Colin McDonald, former Richmond Renegades right wing Graham Mink, former Dayton Bombers and Florida Everblades goaltender Tyler Plante, former Cincinnati Cyclones left wing Pat Rissmiller, Greenville Road Warriors and Bakersfield Condors goaltender Brian Stewart, former Wheeling Nailers goaltender Brad Thiessen and former Hampton Roads Admirals center Trent Whitfield.
Former Wheeling Nailers goaltender Brad Thiessen was named AHL Goaltender of the Year.
There were 12 former ECHL players and three former ECHL coaches in the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic.
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 made their NHL debut in 2010-11: 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 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, vice president/assistant to the president 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 2010-11 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,339 fans per game in 2010-11, marking the seventh consecutive season and the 19th time in the last 21 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.