Photo Courtesy Rich Stieglitz
The New York Islanders announced today that former ECHL coach and executive Jack Capuano has been named interim head coach, replacing Scott Gordon. Gordon will remain with the organization as an adviser to General Manager, Garth Snow.
Capuano has served as the head coach of the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers the past three-plus seasons going 133-100-22 (.564 winning percentage). He will make his National Hockey League head coaching debut on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. He was an assistant coach with the Islanders during the 2005-06 season.
Capuano began his coaching career in the ECHL as an assistant coach with Tallahassee in 1996-97 before taking over as head coach of Knoxville for the final 16 games of that season. He spent the next two seasons as head coach of Pee Dee posting a record of 85-40-15 (.660 winning percentage) and leading the Pride to the 1999 Brabham Cup championship. Capuano moved into the front office following the 1998-99 season serving as the team’s senior vice president until the team suspended operations following the 2004-05 season. He also served as the team’s interim coach for 15 games during the 2000-01 season. Overall as an ECHL coach, Capuano was 101-53-17 for a .640 winning percentage.
Thirty coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne. It is the sixth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award.
There have been 448 players that have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10. Five ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Brian Fahey (Washington on Oct. 16), former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Braden Holtby (Washington on Nov. 7), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 21), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30) and former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11).
The ECHL has had 256 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.
There have been 192 ECHL players that have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of 32 per year.
The ECHL had a record 79 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2010-11, surpassing the 78 from 2009-10 and marking the eighth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team in 2010-11 and the league has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 14th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
Twenty former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers..
The ECHL was represented for the 10th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coaches Mike Haviland and John Torchetti, developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard and scout Ryan Stewart. There were 35 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fifth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the seventh 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, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, 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, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
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 and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.