Dear ECHL Fans,
I am pleased to officially welcome you to the 29th 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.
During the 2015-16 season, the ECHL welcomed over 4.4 million fans, and surpassed the 4,000 mark in average attendance for the 12th consecutive season and the 24th time in the last 26 years. Once again, our Teams made an impact in their local communities as well, donating over $4 million to charitable and non-profit organizations during the 2015-16 season, bringing the total amount donated in the last five years to more than $19 million.
In addition to providing affordable family entertainment to more than 96 million fans since it began, ECHL teams have become an important part of their communities by donating more than $41 million and countless hours to charity over the past decade.
We congratulate the Allen Americans, who became the first team to win back-to-back ECHL championships in 22 years, by defeating the Wheeling Nailers in six games in the 2016 Kelly Cup Finals. The 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs were among the most competitive in ECHL history as six of the 15 series were decided in the full seven games.
The ECHL has become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process as 600 players have gone on to play in the NHL after the ECHL including 30 who made their debuts in 2015-16. In addition to these players, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL. For the 2016-17 season, 13 of the 30 AHL head coaches and over 35 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.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 16 Stanley Cup champions including in 2016 with Pittsburgh Penguins’ player Tom Kuhnhackl, goalie development coach Mike Buckley, Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos, Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey, Amateur Scout Warren Young, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2016-17, marking the 20th consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. For the 27th season in a row, the ECHL was represented on the AHL Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters.
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 29th season of ECHL hockey.