Class of 2008 Is Brabham, Kelly, Vitucci, Valicevic
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Wednesday announced that the inaugural class to be enshrined into the ECHL Hall of Fame will be Henry Brabham, Patrick J. Kelly, Nick Vitucci and Chris Valicevic.
The four will be formally inducted at a luncheon ceremony that will be held in conjunction with the 2008 Chase Chevrolet ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 23, 2008 in Stockton, Calif.
Inductees are enshrined in the ECHL Hall of Fame, which is open around the clock at www.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.
Brabham founded the ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. Brabham owned three of the original five teams, including the legendary Johnstown Chiefs who are celebrating their 20th season in 2007-08. The dedication of the Virginia businessman was crucial to the league surviving to span from coast-to-coast while advancing more than 330 players and countless coaches, on-ice officials and front office personnel to the National Hockey League.
Kelly was the inaugural Commissioner of the ECHL, which from 1988-96 experienced the greatest expansion in minor league hockey history, growing from five teams to 21. He was instrumental in establishing affiliations with teams in the NHL, creating the opportunity for players, on-ice officials and front office personnel to develop and move up the hockey ladder. He became Commissioner Emeritus in 1996 and since 1997 has presented the postseason champion with the Patrick J. Kelly Cup.
Vitucci has won a record five ECHL championships, four as a player and one as an assistant coach, and has been involved with the league as a player and coach every season since the league’s inception. Named the postseason Most Valuable Player twice, he played 14 seasons and is the career leader among goaltenders in games, minutes and wins for both the regular season and the postseason. He played in two All-Star Games and was named First Team All-ECHL in 1991-92 and 1997-98. He was head coach of the Toledo Storm from 2003-07 and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2004-05.
During his nine-year career, Valicevic established himself as not only one of the best defensemen in league history, but one of the greatest players overall while playing for the Greensboro Monarchs and the Louisiana IceGators. He was selected to a record seven All-Star Games and was named First Team All-ECHL five times while being named the league Most Valuable Player in 1998-99. He is the all-time leader with 102 postseason games and is the career regular season and postseason leader among defensemen in assists and points.
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 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08.
Hall of Fame members will be 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 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 ECHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which will be appointed by the ECHL.
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.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08.
There have been 333 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07.
There have been 188 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 69 former ECHL players were on the opening day rosters of NHL teams.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2007-08, marking the 11th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
The ECHL is 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.
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.