By Brian Compton
NHL.com Staff Writer
Perhaps it was only fitting that John Marks leapt past John Brophy in the record books on Feb. 29.
The Pensacola Ice Pilots’ coach recorded his 481st win on that special night in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Florida Everblades to become the ECHL’s all-time winningest coach.
Marks first joined the league as coach of the Charlotte Checkers in 1993 and has spent all but one season in the ECHL since.
That special win over the Everblades has been one of the few bright spots for Marks this season, as his Ice Pilots currently reside in last place in the South Division at 16-34-7. Marks has since picked up win No. 482, a 3-2 shootout victory over Florida on March 1.
“It’s special,” Marks told NHL.com this week. “Hopefully I can win a few more games here this year. Records are made to be broken, but someone’s going to have to hang around in the ECHL for a long time to do it. That was kind of proven by Brophy, and now by myself.”
Despite the Ice Pilots’ struggles, Marks says his team is still thinking playoffs. Pensacola began a tough three-game series in Texas on Friday. The Wildcatters have the best record in the ECHL at 44-6-9.
“Certainly, our plan was to be winning a few more games earlier (in the season),” Marks said. “We’d like to be more in the hunt, or in the middle of the pack. As nice as it is to set a record, it’s kind of an anti-climatic sort of thing right now with where we stand in the standings. I’m very disappointed in where we’re sitting right now. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff, and the team has made some headway. We were 23 points back of a playoff spot, and now we’re only 12. We’ve got three games in hand. Mathematically, we’ve still got a pretty good shot. We’re still clawing away.”
Marks was proud of the way his team battled for him against the Everblades, as the Ice Pilots were able to record the special victory on home ice. A huge celebration ensued, and rightfully so. The humble coach, though, quickly deflected the bulk of the credit to the hundreds of players he’s coached over the years.