Over 110 representatives from ECHL teams, including several owners, presidents and general managers, attended the 19th Annual Sales, Marketing and Communications Meetings at The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 19-20, 2014.
Keynote speakers were Glen Thornborough, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden, who spoke about the common thread of the hockey business throughout the industry and Pat Donahue, Manager of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Kings, who discussed that digital is everyone’s job in the modern world of a front office. ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna provided his annual “State of the ECHL” address.
Ryan Stanzel, Manager of Digital Content and Corporate Communications for the Minnesota Wild, presented breakout sessions on media strategies and training as well as using digital to tell your story while Donahue focused on building meaningful digital relationships in a breakout session he led. Gordon Kaye, former President of the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs, led sessions on the driveway to driveway experience and creating a winning culture.
Darren Abbott, President of the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, presented on being your own ticket CEO while the Monarchs’ Vice President of Ticket Sales Ashley Hoffman, led a session on retention tactics. Abbott and Hoffman also mediated a group sales workshop.
Mike Gordon, President of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, led discussions on sponsorship in a crowded market and on harnessing online data for ticket sales while Jeff Bowler, Senior Director of Ticket Sales and Services from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League, spoke about early renewals and the membership model for ticket packages.
Steve Delay, co-creator of The Ultimate Toolkit, presented sessions on effectively leading a staff and on real-time selling to individuals and groups while Chris Foy from Impression Sports spoke about go to market sales strategies for group sales.
For the 10th year in a row, AMI Graphics, the “Exclusive Signage Company of the ECHL”, awarded a complete set of dasher board and under-ice graphics to an attending team, which was won by the Gwinnett Gladiators for the 2014-15 season.
The annual vendor’s showcase, which highlighted over 20 companies, provided an opportunity for teams to view products from League vendors and licensees. The Fur Circus sponsored lunch during the event for attendees.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• The ECHL celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 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 21 teams in 14 states in 2014-15.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 541 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13.
• 29 ECHL players made their NHL debuts in 2013-14: former Reading Royals Will Acton (Edmonton on Oct. 1), former Kalamazoo Wings left wing Darren Archibald (Vancouver on Oct. 25), former Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Checkers, Greenville Road Warriors and Reading Royals defenseman Julien Brouillette (Washington on Feb. 6), former Colorado Eagles defensemen Ben Chiarot (Winnipeg on Nov. 2) former San Francisco Bulls left wing Jamie Devane (Toronto on Oct. 5), former Elmira Jackals and Reading Royals left wing Brett Gallant (New York Islanders on April 8), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Luke Gazdic (Edmonton on Oct. 1), former Toledo Walleye center Luke Glendening (Detroit on Oct. 12), former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Alex Grant (Anaheim on Nov. 30), former Florida Everblades goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis (Tampa Bay on April 11), former Trenton Titans goaltender Cal Heeter (Philadelphia on April 12), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Magnus Hellberg (Nashville on Oct. 26), former Reading Royals and Ontario Reign goaltender Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg on April 7), former Alaska Aces, Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies and Cincinnati Cyclones right wing Justin Johnson (New York Islanders on April 11), former Ontario Reign goaltender Martin Jones (Los Angeles on Dec. 3), former Greenville Road Warriors, Florida Everblades and Alaska Aces goaltender Connor Knapp (Buffalo on April 11), former Toledo Walleye forward Peter Leblanc (Washington on April 12), former Greenville Road Warriors goaltender Nathan Lieuwen (Buffalo on March 16) former Alaska Aces goaltender Joni Ortio (Calgary on Feb. 27), former Wheeling Nailers center Adam Payerl (Pittsburgh on April 6), former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Philip Samuelsson (Pittsburgh on Dec. 16), former Wheeling Nailers center Zach Sill (Pittsburgh on Nov. 16), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Kent Simpson (Chicago on Dec. 14), former Greenville Road Warriors goaltender Cam Talbot (New York Rangers on Oct. 24), former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2010 Kelly Cup champion Mark Van Guilder (Nashville on March 30), former Gwinnett Gladiators goaltender Mark Visentin (Phoenix on April 12), former Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wey (Washington on Dec. 7), former Cincinnati Cyclones forward Garrett Wilson (Florida on March 18) and former Ontario Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (Pittsburgh on Oct. 11).
• Seven players played in the ECHL and NHL in 2013-14: John Curry with Orlando and Minnesota, Kristers Gudlevskis with Florida and Tampa Bay, Magnus Hellberg with Cincinnati and Nashville, Michael Hutchinson with Ontario and Winnipeg, Connor Knapp with Greenville, Florida, Alaska and Buffalo, Joni Ortio with Alaska and Calgary and Patrick Wey with Reading and Washington.
• The ECHL has had 349 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.
• 285 ECHL players have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
• ECHL had a record 93 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2013-14, surpassing the 87 from 2012-13 and marking the 11th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 25 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. It is the ninth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL.
• 27 former ECHL officials wored as part of the NHL officiating team in 2013-14 with referees Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Mike Leggo, Dave Lewis, T.J. Luxmore, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the 14th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2014 with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick; manager of communications and broadcasting Jeremy Zager; and scouts Mark Mullen and Mark Yannetti. The ECHL was represented by 49 former players and 14 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the ninth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 11th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• Ryan Stanzel, who was a recipient of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, is working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild while former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
• In the last 10 seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined 4,500 with over call-ups involving more than 2,400 players and in 2013-14 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,706 fans per game in 2013-14, the highest single-season average since 1999-2000, and marking the 10th consecutive season and the 22nd time in the last 24 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.