Dear ECHL Fans,
I am pleased to officially welcome you to the 28th season of ECHL hockey. We are fortunate to be in many great cities with modern arenas with teams prepared to deliver an outstanding hockey product.
The 2014-15 season was transformational for the ECHL. The addition of seven new teams from the former Central Hockey League, along with the Indy Fuel, brought us to 28 teams on a strong national platform. This season we welcome new markets in Glens Falls, N.Y. and Manchester, N.H., and welcome back Norfolk, Va., which returns to the ECHL for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
During the 2014-15 season, the ECHL welcomed over 4.6 million fans, and surpassed the 4,000 mark in average attendance for the 11th consecutive season and the 23rd time in the last 25 years.
In addition to providing affordable family entertainment to more than 92 million fans since it began, ECHL teams have become an important part of their communities by donating more than $37 million and countless hours to charity over the past decade.
The ECHL has become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process as 573 players have gone on to play in the NHL after the ECHL including 28 in 2014-15. In addition to these players, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL. For the 2015-16 season, 13 of the 30 AHL head coaches and over 25 coaches on NHL staffs have ECHL ties. Approximately one-third of the current on-ice officials in the NHL spent time developing their skills in the ECHL.
We congratulate the Allen Americans, who captured the Kelly Cup title in their first season in the ECHL with a hard-fought seven-game victory over the South Carolina Stingrays in the Kelly Cup Finals. The 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs were the most competitive in ECHL history with eight of the 15 series being decided in the full seven games.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 15 Stanley Cup champions including in 2015 with Chicago Blackhawks Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard, Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart, players Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins and pro scout Derek Booth. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2015-16, marking the 19th consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. For the 26th season in a row, the ECHL was represented on the AHL Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs.
Thank you on behalf of the ECHL and its teams for your continued support and we hope that you and your family enjoy following your favorite team through what promises to be a fantastic 28th season of ECHL hockey.