For the 13th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo, vice president/assistant to the president Al MacIsaac, director of pro scouting Ryan Stewart and general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard.
The Toledo Walleye are the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2012-13, marking the 16th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had a record 87 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 81 from a year ago and marking the 10th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
It is the second consecutive year that Kompon has served on the coaching staff of the Stanley Cup champion after serving as an assistant coach with Los Angeles during last year’s championship for the Kings. He scored 17 points (4g-13a) and had 107 penalty minutes in 59 games with Hampton Roads, Cincinnati and Winston-Salem from 1989-91.
Brookbank began his pro career in the ECHL, scoring 29 points (8g-21a) in 62 games with Mississippi in 2001-02 while adding five points (1g-4a) in 10 games during the 2002 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He made his NHL debut with Nashville in 2006-07 and has recorded 37 points (5g-32a) and 421 penalty minutes in 303 career NHL games with the Predators, Blackhawks, New Jersey and Anaheim.
A third-round selection by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Carcillo had five points (3g-2a) in six games with Wheeling during the 2005-06 season. He made his NHL debut with Phoenix in 2006-07, and has recorded 87 points (40g-47a) and 1,079 penalty minutes in 333 career NHL games with the Blackhawks, Coyotes and Philadelphia.
MacIsaac, Stewart and Bernard were each part of the Blackhawks’ staff during the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. MacIsaac played in the ECHL with Hampton Roads from 1991-93 scoring 29 points (5g-24a) in 52 games before becoming an assistant coach with the Admirals from 1993-2000. Stewart recorded 157 points (69g-88a) in 325 career ECHL games with Florida and Greenville from 1998-2004 while Bernard, who was named Most Valuable Player of the 1992 Riley Cup Playoffs, ranks 11th among goaltender in ECHL history with 239 career appearances with Johnstown, Hampton Roads, Erie and Toledo. He later served as an assistant coach with Roanoke and Toledo from 2001-03.
In addition to the members of the Blackhawks, there are 25 other ECHL alums who have been on the Stanley Cup winner: Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2012); assistant coach Geoff Ward, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011); assistant coach Mike Haviland and associate coach John Torchetti (Chicago – 2010); head coach Dan Bylsma and Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009); Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008); assistant coach Dave Farrish, Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007); head coach Peter Laviolette, Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (Carolina – 2006); Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004); Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003); Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002); David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001); Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Fedotenko, Pratt, MacIsaac and Kompon are the only former ECHL players to have their name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.
In addition to MacIsaac, there are six other former ECHL coaches to have won the Stanley Cup. Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career with Wheeling in 1996-97 and was the first former ECHL coach to win the Stanley Cup as a head coach with Carolina in 2006; Dave Farrish, who coached five seasons in the ECHL and was an assistant coach for Anaheim when the Ducks won in 2007; John Torchetti, who was an assistant coach with Greensboro for two seasons and was associate coach for Chicago during the Blackhawks 2010 championship; Mike Haviland, who was head coach in Atlantic City from 2001-04 and Trenton in 2004-05, was an assistant coach for the Blackhawks in 2010; Geoff Ward, who was head coach of Arkansas in 1999-00, was an assistant coach with Boston in 2011; and Tom McVie, who was head coach of Wheeling in 1996-97, was a scout for the Bruins in 2011.
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 53 former players and 18 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the eighth year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 10th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the ninth straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 512 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL. The ECHL has had 320 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. There have been 256 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last eight seasons for an average of 32 per year.
There were five players who played in the ECHL in 2012-13 and made their NHL debut this season: Jason Akeson (Trenton and Philadelphia), Philipp Grubauer (Reading and Washington), Matt Konan (Trenton and Philadelphia), Darcy Kuemper (Orlando and Minnesota) and Petr Mrazek (Toledo and Detroit).
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean Sebastien Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 while the 300th was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on April 11, 2006. The 400th was Phil Oreskovic on March 9, 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs while the 500th player honor is shared by Anthony Peluso and Darcy Kuemper, who both made their debut on Feb. 12, 2013 with the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild, respectively.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League 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 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 works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 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 23 teams in 16 states in 2011-12.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• In the last nine seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 4,000 call-ups involving more than 2,100 players and in 2012-13 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,695 fans per game in 2012-13, the highest single-season average since 1999-2000, and the ninth consecutive season and the 21st time in the last 23 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.