Updated to include Kevin Colley, who made his NHL debut on October 27 with New York Islanders
PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Wheeling and Idaho center Zenon Konopka became the 269th player to play in the National Hockey League after playing in the ECHL when he made his NHL debut with Anaheim in its 3-2 win against Phoenix on Sunday.
The 24-year-old was recalled to Anaheim from Portland of the American Hockey League where he had eight points (2g-6a), 10 penalty minutes and a plus-minus rating of +8 in seven games. In 2004-05 with Cincinnati of the AHL, he had 46 points (17g-29a) and 212 penalty minutes in 75 regular season games and six points (3g-3a) and 26 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games.
Signed to a two-year contract by Anaheim on September 1, 2004, the 6-foot-1 and 213-pound Konopka helped the Idaho Steelheads win the Kelly Cup in 2004, leading the Finals with six points and tying for the Finals lead with four goals. He tied for the league postseason lead with nine goals and three game-winning goals while ranking third in scoring with 17 points (9g-8a) in 17 games. During the 2003-04 regular season, he had 28 points (6g-22a) in 23 games with Idaho and 11 points (7g-4a) in 43 games with Utah of the AHL.
In 2002-03 with Wheeling, Konopka was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and ranked second among ECHL rookies with 48 assists and ranked third in rookie scoring with 70 points. Selected to the 2003 ECHL All-Star Game where he had an assist in the Northern Conference’s 8-2 win, Konopka led the Nailers in points (70), assists (48) and plus-minus rating (+9) while tying for the team lead with four game-winning goals.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 12 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience. There have been 13 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Evgeny Artukhin (Tampa Bay on October 20), Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on October 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on October 5), Kevin Colley (New York Islanders on October 27), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on October 12), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on October 21), Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on October 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on October 19), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on October 8), Zenon Konopka (Anaheim on October 30), George Parros (Los Angeles on October 5), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on October 26) and Mark Streit (Montreal on October 8).