PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced that the National Hockey League has hired Jean Hebert, who worked as a full-time referee in the ECHL in 2009-10 including Games 1 and 4 of the 2010 Kelly Cup Finals.
The 30 year old, who began his professional career as a part-time referee in the ECHL in 2007-08, worked for the NHL during the 2008 and 2009 preseason as a referee for a rookie tournament with the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
“The experience that I gained working full-time with professional players in the ECHL was a great experience,” said Hebert. “The ECHL Officiating department, including Joe Ernst, Bryan Lewis and the staff of supervisors, is a tremendous help as they spend time working and teaching their officials to help make them better. It is exciting to take this next step towards my dream of working in the NHL.”
“We are pleased to hear that Jean has been hired by the National Hockey League,” said ECHL Director of Officiating Joe Ernst. “He proved throughout the course of this past season that he has the ability to work at the next level. We are pleased that the NHL has recognized the ECHL as the primary development league for young officials to develop and learn what it takes to be a professional. We strive to continue the success we have had developing young talented officials for them.”
Before being hired by the ECHL, Hebert worked five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League beginning as a linesman in 2004 before becoming a referee in 2006. He worked the President Cup Finals and three Memorial Cup Tournaments, as well as the 2005 World Under-17 Championship.
This is the fourth consecutive season that an ECHL referee has been hired by the National Hockey League. David Banfield was hired prior to the 2007-08 season, Ghislain Herbert joined the NHL prior to the 2008-09 season and Francis Charron was hired prior to the 2009-10 season.
In addition to Hebert there are 19 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Herbert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Bryan Pancich, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers.
Barton, Joannette, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, O’Rourke, Pochmara, Pollock, Rooney, Sharrers and Walsh all worked in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. O’Rourke and Sharrers worked the conference semifinals. It was the fourth year in a row that Barton, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock and Sharrers have worked the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders, Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers, Davis Payne of the St. Louis Blues and Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. There are 19 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 10 NHL champions including 2010 with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coaches Mike Haviland and John Torchetti, developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard and scout Ryan Stewart.The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 35 former players and 14 coaches on 15 of the 16 teams. It was the fifth year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the seventh consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the sixth straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 443 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10. There were six players who played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2009-10: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim, Tomas Kana with Alaska and Columbus, Jeremy Duchesne with Kalamazoo and Philadelphia, Dan Sexton with Bakersfield and Anaheim, MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim and Matt Zaba with Charlotte and the New York Rangers.
The ECHL has had 251 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 187 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of more than 37 per year.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current New York Islanders head coach 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, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
• Watch ECHL games around the clock on ECHL TV on B2CableTV.com.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is 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 with 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia in 2010-11.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League in 2009-10 and for the past 21 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.