PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL has 81 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, surpassing the record 79 players from last season and marking the ninth season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has former players on 28 of the 30 teams and has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 15th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There are 32 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and 2011 Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne. It is the seventh consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. 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. Bylsma, who played in the ECHL with Greensboro from 1992-94, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2010-11.
There are 22 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2011-12 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre, Graham Skilliter and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Matt MacPherson, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
There have been 467 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 23 in 2010-11. The ECHL has had 275 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 211 ECHL players have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of more than 35 per year.
There were four players who played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2010-11: Mike Brodeur with Elmira and Ottawa, Timo Pielmeier with Elmira and Anaheim, Thomas McCollum with Toledo and Detroit and Yann Sauve with Victoria and Vancouver.
The ECHL was represented for the 11th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Boston Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas, radio broadcaster Dave Goucher and scout Tom McVie. Thomas is the first former ECHL player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the sixth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the eighth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean-Sebastian Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 while the 300th player was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on April 11, 2006 and the 400th was Phil Oreskovic on March 9, 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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.
Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):
Anaheim Ducks (Elmira Jackals) – Assistant coach Dave Farrish (Louisiana, 2001-04 and Pensacola, 2004-05), video coach Joe Trotta (Peoria, 2000-01), Sheldon Brookbank (Mississippi, 2001-02), Jeff Deslauriers (Greenville, 2004-06), Dan Ellis (Idaho, 2003-04), Andrew Gordon (South Carolina, 2007-08), Maxime Macenauer (Bakersfield, 2009-10) and George Parros (Reading, 2004-05).
Boston Bruins (Reading Royals) – Assistant coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00), Joe Corvo (Hampton Roads, 1997-98), Rich Peverley (South Carolina, 2004-05 and Reading, 2005-06) and Tim Thomas (Birmingham, 1997-98).
Buffalo Sabres (Gwinnett Gladiators) – Matt Ellis (Toledo, 2002-03) and Drew MacIntyre (Toledo, 2003-06).
Calgary Flames (Utah Grizzlies) – Raitis Ivanans (IR) (Pensacola, 1999-00 and Baton Rouge, 2001-02), Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (Trenton, 2006-08) and Derek Smith (Elmira, 2007-08).
Carolina Hurricanes (Florida Everblades) – Patrick Dwyer (Gwinnett, 2004-05) and Chad Larose (Florida, 2003-04).
Chicago Blackhawks (Toledo Walleye) – Assistant coach Mike Haviland (Richmond, 1990-91; Winston-Salem, 1990-91; Trenton, 1999-01 and 2004-05 and Atlantic City, 2001-04) and Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 1993-94).
Colorado Avalanche – Cody McLeod (San Diego, 2005-06) and Daniel Winnik (Phoenix, 2006-07).
Columbus Blue Jackets (Chicago Express) – Mark Dekanich (IR) (Cincinnati, 2009-10) and Curtis Sanford (Peoria, 2000-02).
Dallas Stars (Idaho Steelheads) – Head coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-09), goaltending coach Mike Valley (Augusta, 1998-00; Louisiana, 1999-01; Wheeling, 2002-03 and Peoria, 2003-04), Krys Barch (Richmond, 2001-02 and Greenville, 2004-06), Vernon Fiddler (Arkansas, 2000-01 and Roanoke, 2001-02), Adam Pardy (Las Vegas, 2005-06), Michael Ryder (Tallahassee, 2000-01 and Mississippi, 2001-02) and Tom Wandell (Idaho, 2007-08).
Edmonton Oilers (Stockton Thunder) – Goaltending coach Frederic Chabot (Winston-Salem, 1991-92) and Devan Dubnyk (Stockton, 2006-07).
Los Angeles Kings (Ontario Reign) – Assistant coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91), Scott Parse (Reading, 2007-08), Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08) and Jeff Zatkoff (Ontario, 2009-10).
Minnesota Wild – Nick Johnson (Wheeling, 2008-09) and Matt Kassian (IR) (Texas, 2007-08).
Montreal Canadiens (Wheeling Nailers) – Hunter Bishop (Wheeling, 2010-11), David Desharnais (Cincinnati, 2007-08) and Scott Gomez (Alaska, 2004-05)
Nashville Predators (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Assistant coach Peter Horachek (Nashville, 1990-91 and Trenton, 2001-02), Francis Bouillon (IR) (Wheeling, 1996-97) and Jerred Smithson (Trenton, 2000-01).
New Jersey Devils (Kalamazoo Wings) – Eric Boulton (Charlotte, 1996-98; Florida, 1998-99 and Columbia, 2004-05), Johan Hedberg (Baton Rouge, 1997-98) and Brad Mills (Trenton, 2007-08).
New York Islanders – Head coach Jack Capuano (Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-05), assistant coach Scott Allen (Carolina, 1988-89; Winston-Salem, 1989-90; Erie, 1989-90; Greensboro, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Johnstown, 1996-02), goaltending coach Mike Dunham (Gwinnett, 2005-06), Trevor Gillies (IR) (Mississippi, 1999-00; Greensboro, 2000-01; Augusta, 2001-02 and 2006-07); Richmond, 2001-03; Peoria, 2002-03 Andrew MacDonald (Utah, 2007-08), Al Montoya (Charlotte, 2005-06), P.A. Parenteau (Augusta, 2005-06) and Mark Streit (Tallahassee, 1999-00).
New York Rangers (Greenville Road Warriors) – Video coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92), Stu Bickel (Bakersfield, 2009-10), Martin Biron (South Carolina, 1997-98), Ruslan Fedotenko (Trenton, 1999-00) and Dan Girardi (Charlotte, 2005-06).
Ottawa Senators (Elmira Jackals) – Assistant coach Mark Reeds (Peoria, 1996-99), Alex Auld (Columbia, 2001-02), Zenon Konopka (Wheeling, 2002-03 and Idaho, 2003-04) and Chris Neil (Mobile, 1999-00).
Philadelphia Flyers (Trenton Titans) – Head coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98), Andrew Rowe (IR) (Greenville, 2010-11), Jody Shelley (Johnstown, 1998-00) and Matt Walker (Peoria, 2000-01).
Phoenix Coyotes (Gwinnett Gladiators) – Associate coach Jim Playfair (Dayton, 1993-96), Paul Bissonnette (Wheeling, 2005-07), Jason LaBarbera (Charlotte, 2000-02) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03).
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Head coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94), assistant coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-95 and Jacksonville, 1995-96), Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07), Mark Letestu (Wheeling, 2007-08), Steve MacIntyre (Charlotte, 2004-06) and Nick Petersen (IR) (Wheeling, 2010-11).
San Jose Sharks (Stockton Thunder) – Goalie coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92), assistant coach Matt Shaw (Mobile, 1997-98), assistant coach Jay Woodcroft (Jackson, 1999-00), Andrew Desjardins (Phoenix, 2008-09) and Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07).
St. Louis Blues – Head coach Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-00; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07), B.J. Crombeen (IR) (Idaho, 2005-07), Jaroslav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06) and Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08).
Tampa Bay Lightning (Florida Everblades) – Assistant coach Dan Lacroix (Atlantic City, 2001-02) and Tom Pyatt (Charlotte, 2007-08).
Toronto Maple Leafs (Reading Royals) – Assistant coach Scott Gordon (Johnstown, 1988-89; Nashville, 1992-93; Knoxville, 1993-94 and Roanoke, 1998-00), skating coach Graeme Townsend (Greensboro, 2001-02), Philippe Dupuis (Dayton, 2006-07), James Reimer (Reading, 2008-09 and South Carolina, 2008-09), Jay Rosehill (Johnstown, 2005-07 and Mississippi, 2007-08) and David Steckel (Reading, 2004-05).
Vancouver Canucks (Kalamazoo Wings) – Alexandre Burrows (Greenville, 2002-03; Baton Rouge, 2002-03 and Columbia, 2003-05) and Steven Pinizzotto (IR) (South Carolina, 2007-09).
Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Head coach Bruce Boudreau (Mississippi, 1996-99), assistant coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05), associate goaltending coach Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 1990-92), Keith Aucoin (Florida, 2001-02), Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07), Matt Hendricks (IR) (Florida, 2004-05), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina, 2008-09) and Tomas Voukon (Wheeling, 1995-96).
Winnipeg Jets – Head coach Claude Noel (Roanoke Valley, 1991-92; Dayton, 1991-93 and Toledo, 2002-03), assistant coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 1997-98), assistant coach Pascal Vincent (Knoxville, 1992-93), goaltending coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90) and Kenndal McArdle (Florida, 2007-08)
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, 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 20 teams in 16 states in 2011-12.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 22 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, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.