SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in conjunction with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate have announced the signing of defenseman Terry Virtue, who began his professional career in the ECHL.
In his rookie season in 1991-92, the 6-0 and 200-pound Virtue scored 26 points (4g-22a) in 38 regular season games with Roanoke Valley and 16 points (1g-15a) in 23 regular season games and eight points (0g-8a) in 13 playoff games with Louisville. He returned to the ECHL in 1992-93, scoring 17 points (0g-17a) in 28 regular season games with Louisville and 18 points (3g-15a) in 31 regular season games and eight points (3g-5a) in 16 playoff games for Wheeling. In 1993-94, he scored 33 points (5g-28a) in 34 regular season games and four points (2g-2a) in six playoff games for Wheeling while also scoring 10 points (4g-6a) in 26 regular season games and appearing in five playoff games with Cape Breton of the AHL.
The 33-year-old Virtue completed his sixth season with Worcester in the AHL in 2003-04 and is the IceCats career leader in points (210), assists (154), penalty minutes (1,083) and games (455). Virtue, who served as captain for the Canadian team at the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic, scored 22 points (6g-16a) in 74 games with Worcester in 2003-04 and was named the team’s Defenseman of the Year for the third time.
Virtue won back-to-back AHL championships in 1999 with Providence and in 2000 with Hartford. In 1998-99, he led AHL defensemen with 48 assists while ranking second in points (56) and plus/minus rating (+34) and was named a Second Team AHL All-Star. In 11 seasons in the AHL, Virtue has 356 points (82g-274a) and 1,659 penalty minutes in 771 career AHL games.
There were former ECHL coaches behind the benches of 14 of the 28 teams in the American Hockey League and all 28 teams in the AHL had an ECHL player take the ice for them in 2003-04. The ECHL had affiliation agreements with 21 of the 28 teams in the AHL and there were over 90 players on AHL contracts in the ECHL in 2003-04. There were more than 220 players that played in both the ECHL and the AHL in 2003-04 and the ECHL had 425 call-ups, involving 234 players, to the AHL during the regular season.
For the 15th consecutive season, an ECHL player is a member of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Champion. In addition to Claude Noel, who is in his first season as head coach, Milwaukee had eight players and radio announcer Kyle Schultz, who are all alumni of the ECHL.