By Brian Compton
If you’re an ECHL player with aspirations of one day making it to the NHL, you really should look no further than Kevin Colley for inspiration.
In the early part of this decade, Colley was a dominant player at the ECHL level. He received a couple chances in the American Hockey League, but always found his way back to the Double-A level.
After winning a Kelly Cup championship with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in 2003, Colley finally received a full-time job in the AHL. He appeared in 78 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the 2003-04 season and never looked back.
Two seasons later, Colley finally made it to the NHL with the New York Islanders. Soon after, though, his journey was cut short.
On Jan. 31, 2006, Colley fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae in a game against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum. He would never play again.
But his passion for the game wouldn’t allow Colley to stay away. On Aug. 22, the Utah Grizzlies – the Isles’ ECHL affiliate – tabbed Colley as their assistant coach.
One door closes, another opens.
“I had meetings with (Islanders GM) Garth Snow at the beginning of the summer and I told him my heart is in the game of hockey,” Colley said. “I just feel that my personality and what I’ve been through, I have a lot of knowledge. I’ve played for a lot of great coaches. I just feel like it’s a perfect fit for me. It’s something I want to pursue. As soon as they signed an affiliation with Utah, Garth mentioned it to (Utah head coach) Jason Christie and here I am. I’m real excited. Obviously, I’m looking forward to making a nice transition from player to coach. I’m just going to try to learn as much as I can and soak everything in.”