NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced that former Mississippi Sea Wolves and current Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau is one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.”
Boudreau led Mississippi to the 1999 Kelly Cup Championship and in three seasons with the Sea Wolves was 109-75-26. He coached Hershey of the American Hockey League for three seasons before joining the Capitals and led the team to the Eastern Conference championship and the Calder Cup finals in each of his first two years and won the Calder Cup in 2006. Boudreau is one of 15 coaches with an ECHL background working behind an NHL bench. He is the second head coach joining former Wheeling coach Peter Laviolette who is head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The other two finalists are Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings and Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens. Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association submitted ballots at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote getters announced as finalists.
The winner will be announced on June 12 during the 2008 NHL Awards Television Special which will be broadcast live throughout Canada on CBC and the United States on VERSUS from the Historic Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
In his first NHL coaching job Boudreau led the Capitals to one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NHL history. Named head coach on Nov. 22 with the 6-14-1 Capitals at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Boudreau led his club to a 37-17-7 mark the rest of the way, including seven consecutive victories to close the season, and captured the Southeast Division title in the final game of the season. He reached 20 victories (34 games) and 30 victories (53 games) faster than any coach in Capitals history.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 11th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams.
There have been 355 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL and 210 who have made their debut in the last seven seasons. Twenty-six former ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2007-08 including six who played in both the ECHL and NHL: Chris Beckford-Tseu (Alaska and St. Louis), Adam Berti (Pensacola and Chicago), Joe Jensen (Wheeling and Carolina), Dan LaCosta (Elmira and Columbus), Jonathan Quick (Reading and Los Angeles) and Danny Taylor (Reading and Los Angeles).
Former ECHL players that played their first NHL game in 2007-08 were: former Peoria Rivermen and Alaska Aces goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu (St. Louis on Feb. 21), former Pensacola Ice Pilots left wing Adam Berti (Chicago on Apr. 4), former Florida Everblades center David Brine (Florida on Feb. 2), former Idaho Steelheads right wing B.J. Crombeen (Dallas on Jan. 19), former Gwinnett Gladiators left wing Kevin Doell (Atlanta on Jan. 4), former Alaska defenseman Zack FitzGerald (Vancouver on Feb. 5), former Columbia left wing Alex Foster (Toronto on Mar. 18), former Fresno goaltender Thomas Greiss (San Jose on Jan. 14), former Roanoke Express and Wheeling Nailers left wing Jason Jaffray (Vancouver on Dec. 12), former Wheeling Nailers left wing Joe Jensen (Carolina on Feb. 18), former Dayton and Elmira goaltender Dan LaCosta (Columbus on Mar. 25), former Toledo Storm goaltender Drew MacIntyre (Vancouver on Dec. 13), former San Diego Gulls left wing Cody McLeod (Colorado on Dec. 19), former Alaska Aces and Pensacola Ice Pilots center Chris Minard (Pittsburgh on Jan. 21), former Columbia Inferno center Brandon Nolan (Carolina on Dec. 22), former Johnstown Chiefs and Fresno Falcons goaltender Dmitri Patzold (San Jose on Oct. 7), former Gwinnett Gladiators and Louisiana IceGators left wing Pascal Pelletier (Boston on Jan. 17), former Reading Royals goaltender Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles on Dec. 6), former Stockton Thunder left wing Liam Reddox (Edmonton on Dec. 7), former Cincinnati Cyclones left wing Greg Stewart (Montreal on Apr. 5), former Gwinnett Gladiators left wing Colin Stuart (Atlanta on Dec. 29), former Bakersfield Condors, Reading Royals, Texas Wildcatters and Wheeling Nailers goaltender Danny Taylor (Los Angeles on Mar. 29), former Columbus Chill, Richmond Renegades and Trenton Titans left wing Pete Vandermeer (Phoenix on Feb. 10), former San Diego goaltender Tyler Weiman (Colorado on Oct. 4), former Charlotte Checkers right wing Craig Weller (Phoenix on Oct. 4) and former Phoenix RoadRunners center Daniel Winnik (Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 4).
There were 33 former ECHL players and six former coaches and a representative on all 16 teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is the third year in a row that there have been over 30 former ECHL players and the fifth straight season that more than 25 players with ECHL experience have played in the NHL postseason. It is the fourth straight time that the ECHL has been represented by six coaches including Boudreau and Calgary associate coach Jim Playfair, who was ECHL Coach of the Year in 1994-95.
The ECHL was represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08, the ECHL is the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League and 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 that will play with 24 teams in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2007-08 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.
In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.