PRINCETON, N.J. – National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly took time out of a hectic travel schedule between Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals to address the ECHL Board of Governors on Thursday as part of the Annual Meeting held on Thursday and Friday in Henderson, Nev.
Daly spoke about the NHL and its success during the 2005-06 season both on the ice with rule changes that have resulted in higher scoring and off the ice where attendance reached an all-time high. He also said that the salary cap will place a greater importance on NHL teams developing players in the minor leagues and that the ECHL should see its role in developing players for both the NHL and the American Hockey League grow even more in the future. He also noted that the ECHL and the AHL are the only two leagues that are officially recognized as minor leagues by the National Hockey League Players’ Association in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Daly said that the NHL hopes to expand its working relationship with the ECHL in developing players while also having the ECHL play a larger role in developing on-ice officials. He said that the NHL will also continue to work with the ECHL off the ice in marketing initiatives and in helping to grow the sport of hockey at all levels. The NHL graciously worked with the ECHL this past season to coordinate a Stanley Cup Tour in ECHL cities to raise awareness and support for the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes which resulted in both the Mississippi Sea Wolves and the Texas Wildcatters having to suspend operations for 2005-06. The Wildcatters will return for the 2006-07 season.
About The ECHL
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003. The Premier “AA” Hockey League, the ECHL had affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2005-06. There have been 303 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 who have made their NHL debut in 2005-06. The ECHL had affiliations with 21 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2005-06 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion. The ECHL raised its average attendance for the third straight year in 2005-06 drawing 3,934,794 for 900 games which is an average of 4,372 per game, an increase of more than nine percent from 2004-05 and the largest per-game average since 1999-2000. Six teams surpassed 200,000 and nine teams averaged 5,000 per game for the first time since 1999-2000 as the league welcomed 39 sellout crowds and 13 of the 22 returning teams raised their average attendance from a year ago.