All-Star Festivities Will Include Stanley Cup, Kelly Cup

STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder and the ECHL on Thursday announced that the Stanley Cup and the Patrick J. Kelly Cup will both be on display at events throughout the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game hosted by the Thunder and the City of Stockton at Stockton Arena on Jan. 23, 2008.

It will be the 16th edition of the annual midseason game that showcases the top prospects in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League. The 11th edition of the All-Star Skills Competition will be held on Jan. 22, 2008 at Stockton Arena.

It will be the eighth time in the last nine years that the Kelly Cup and the Stanley Cup have been displayed together at the ECHL All-Star Game. The “Keeper of the Cup” from the Hockey Hall of Fame also will be available to answer questions and talk about the history of hockey.

Fans will have the opportunity to have photographs taken with both the Stanley Cup and the Kelly Cup at the Skills Competition, the ECHL Premier Ice Odyssey Reception, the All-Star Game and at the All-Star Fan Fest.

The oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America, the Stanley Cup was donated by Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby, in 1893. Lord Stanley purchased the trophy for 10 guineas ($50 at that time) for presentation to amateur hockey champions of Canada. Since 1910, when the National Hockey League took possession of the Stanley Cup, the trophy has been the symbol of professional hockey supremacy. It has been competed for only by NHL teams since 1926-27 and has been under the exclusive control of the NHL since 1947.

The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.

It is the second year in a row that a former ECHL coach is part of the NHL champion and the third consecutive year that there is more than one former ECHL player on the winning team. Farrish becomes the second former ECHL coach to have his name engraved on the historic trophy while Beauchemin and Parros are the 12th and 13th former ECHL players to have their name on the Stanley Cup.

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career in the ECHL with Wheeling, was the first coach to have his name engraved in 2006. The other former ECHL players whose names are on the Stanley Cup are Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (Carolina – 2006), Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004), Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Pratt is the only ECHL player to have his name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.

Named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, who is one of the founding fathers of the ECHL, the Kelly Cup has been awarded to the ECHL champion since 1997. The Kelly Cup stands 19 3/8 inches tall and weighs 25 3/8 pounds and was created by Boardman Silversmiths, Inc. in Meriden, Connecticut. Boardman also produces the Calder Cup for the American Hockey League as well as the U.S. Open Tennis trophy and the Masters trophy. The Kelly Cup, which was won in 2007 by the Idaho Steelheads, replaced the Riley Cup which was awarded from 1989-96.

ECHL

The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.

ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.

There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season. More than 100 players under contract to NHL teams have played in the ECHL this season. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.

The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.

In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.

In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.

Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.