20 ECHL alums to participate in 2014 Winter Olympics

The ECHL will be represented by former player
Dan Bylsma, who is head coach of the United States, former coach Peter Laviolotte, who is an assistant coach for the United States, along with 18 players in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which begin next month in Sochi, Russia.

Bylsma played two seasons with the Greensboro Generals from 1992-94, scoring 90 points (39g-51a) in 85 games. He went on to play 429 career games in the National Hockey League, and has been the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins since February 2009. He led the Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup title and received the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year following the 2010-11 season.

Laviolette made his head coaching debut with Wheeling in 1997-98, leading the club to a 37-24-9 record as the Nailers advanced to the Northern Conference Finals. The next season, he was named head coach of the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins, and he led the club to the Calder Cup title. Laviolette became the first former ECHL coach to lead his team to Stanley Cup title with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Seven of the 12 teams have an ECHL player led by Latvia which has six former ECHL players followed by Austria with four former players. Norway has three former ECHL players, Slovakia has two former players while Canada, Switzerland and the United States each have one player.

Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis is the only player on an Olympic roster who has played in the ECHL during the 2013-14 season. Under contract to the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Guslevskiks is currently second in the league with a 1.83 goals-against average and tied for fourth with a .925 save percentage. He is currently recalled to Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

Jonathan Quick, who suited up for the Reading Royals during the 2007-08 season, has been named as a goaltender for the United States for the second straight Olympics. The Los Angeles Kings’ goaltender was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012 after leading the Kings to the first Stanley Cup title in team history.

AUSTRIAFlorian Iberer (Alaska, 2006-07); Andre Lakos (Augusta, 2002-03); Brian Lebler (Elmira, 2010-11) and Thomas Pock (Charlotte, 2004-05)

CANADA – Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)

LATVIA – Armands Berzins (Louisiana, 2003-04 and Wheeling, 2004-05); Kristers Gudlevskis (Florida, 2013-14); Ervins Mustukovs (Toledo, 2006-07 and Elmira, 2007-08); Arvid Rekis (Peoria, 2000-03); Juris Stals (Charlotte, 2004-06) and Herbert Vasiljevs (Knoxville, 1996-97)

NORWAY – Morten Ask (Toledo, 2003-04 and Las Vegas, 2003-05); Marius Holtet (Louisiana, 2004-05) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Dayton, 2004-05)

SLOVAKIA – Jaroslav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06) and Tomas Zaborsky (Charlotte, 2008-09 and Dayton, 2008-09)

SWITZERLANDMark Streit (Tallahassee, 1999-00)

UNITED STATESJonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)


Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts 

• Watch games live on America ONE Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.

• 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 22 teams in 15 states in 2013-14. 

• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.

527 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13. 

• 15 ECHL players have 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 Colorado Eagles defensemen Ben Chiarot (Winnipeg on Nov. 2) former San Francisco Bulls left wing Jamie Devane (Toronto on Oct. 5), 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 Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Magnus Hellberg (Nashville on Oct. 26), former Ontario Reign goaltender Martin Jones (Los Angeles on Dec. 3), 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 Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wey (Washington on Dec. 7) and former Ontario Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (Pittsburgh on Oct. 11).

• The ECHL has had 335 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. 

• 271 ECHL players have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 30 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 has affiliations with 27 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. 

• 30 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Florida Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel. 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 are scheduled to work 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 13th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2013 with Chicago Blackhaws assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo, vice president/assistant to the president Al MacIsaac, director of pro scouting Ryan Stewart and general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard. The ECHL was represented by 53 former players and 18 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the eighth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 10th 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 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 works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers. 

• ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League in 2013-14 and for the past 24 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion

• In the last nine seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined 4,000 with over call-ups involving more than 2,100 players and in 2012-13 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues. 

• The ECHL averaged 4,695 fans per game in 2012-13, the highest single-season average since 1999-2000, and marking the ninth consecutive season and the 21st time in the last 23 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.  

• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.