For the 15th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard, Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart, players Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins and pro scout Derek Booth.
The Indy Fuel are the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 29 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had 72 players on NHL opening-day rosters, marking the 12th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
MacIsaac, who was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2014, has been a part of each of the Blackhawks’ three championships in the last six seasons. He 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.
Bernard and Stewart were also part of Chicago’s staff in both 2010 and 2013. Bernard, who was named Most Valuable Player of the 1992 Riley Cup Playoffs, ranks 11th among goaltenders 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. Stewart recorded 157 points (69g-88a) in 325 career ECHL games with Florida and Greenville from 1998-2004.
Darling went 17-14-4 in 39 career ECHL appearances with Florida, Wheeling and Cincinnati with a 2.83 goals-against average and a save percentage of .906. He made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Oct. 26, 2014, becoming the first SPHL player to reach the NHL. He appeared in 14 regular-season games for Chicago, posting a record of 9-4-0 with one shutout, a 1.94 goals-against average and a save percentage of .936. He saw action in five games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs going 3-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average and a save percentage of .936.
Desjardins scored two goals in five games with the Phoenix RoadRunners during the 2008-09 season. He scored four points (1g-3a) in 21 games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs after tallying 10 points (5g-5a) in 69 games during the regular season. He has seen action in 285 career NHL games with Chicago and San Jose.
Booth played six seasons in the ECHL with Toledo, South Carolina and Peoria, scoring 177 points (44g-133a) in 268 career games. He was named to the All-ECHL First Team in 1992-93 with Toledo and was part of the Storm squad that captured the 1993 Riley Cup title.
In addition to the members of the Blackhawks, there are 30 other ECHL alums who have been on the Stanley Cup winner: assistant coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2014) 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 (Chicago – 2013); Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2012); assistant coach Geoff Ward, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011); vice president Al MacIsaac, assistant coach Mike Haviland, associate coach John Torchetti and director of pro scouting Ryan Stewart (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).
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 38 former players and 11 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the 10th year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 12th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 11th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 569 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 28 who made their debut in 2014-15. The ECHL has had 377 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 313 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 10 seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
There were six players who played in the ECHL and NHL in 2014-15: Tyler Bunz with Wichita and Edmonton, John Curry with Quad City and Minnesota, Chris Driedger with Evansville and Ottawa, Louis Domingue with Gwinnett, Brett Kulak with Colorado and Calgary and Mackenzie Skapski with Greenville and the New York Rangers.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, 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.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 28th season in 2015-16. There have been 569 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 28 who made their NHL debuts in the 2014-15 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.