PRINCETON, N.J. –The Phoenix Coyotes announced today that they have named Jim Playfair as the team’s associate coach.
Playfair began his coaching career in the ECHL, serving as the head coach of Dayton from 1993-96. He led the Bombers to an overall record of 106-76-24 and advanced to the Riley Cup Playoffs in each season. Playfair was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 1994-95 after leading the team to a 42-17-9 record.
Following two years as an assistant coach with Michigan of the International Hockey League, Playfair was named head coach of the Saint John Flames of the American Hockey League, leading the team to the Calder Cup championship in his first season behind the bench in 2000-01. He remained with Saint John for the next one plus seasons before being promoted to assistant coach with the NHL’s Calgary Flames midway through the 2003-04 season.
He spent the next five seasons with the Flames, including serving as the team’s head coach in 2006-07 when Calgary went 43-29-10.
For the previous two seasons, Playfair was head coach for Abbotsford in the American Hockey League, posting a record of 77-61-22.
During the 2010-11 season, 30 coaches with an ECHL background worked 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 was 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 466 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 35 in 2009-10. Twenty-three ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Idaho Steelheads goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Richard Bachman (Dallas on Dec. 11), former Minnesota Wild defenseman Drew Bagnall (Minnesota on April 8), former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell (St. Louis on Dec. 15), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Mark Dekanich (Nashville on Dec. 18), former South Carolina Stingrays left wing Stefan Della Rovere (St. Louis on Dec. 1), former Phoenix RoadRunners center Andrew Desjardins (San Jose on Jan. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender and 2007 ECHL All-Star Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati on Dec. 30), 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 Charlotte Checkers right wing Hugh Jessiman (Florida on Feb. 27), former Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Utah Grizzlies goaltender Mikko Koskinen (New York Islanders on Feb. 8), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Utah Grizzlies goaltender Nathan Lawson (New York Islanders on Dec. 18), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum (Detroit on March 30), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays center and two-time ECHL All-Star Travis Morin (Dallas on Jan. 26), former Johnstown Chiefs and Cincinnati Cyclones forward Chris Mueller (Nashville on Dec. 28), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Timo Pielmeier (Anaheim on Feb. 19), former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11), former Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player James Reimer (Tortonto on Dec. 20) and former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Yann Sauve (Vancouver on Feb. 15).
The ECHL has had 274 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 210 ECHL players that have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of 35 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, vice president/assistant to the president 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 and Bob McElligott and John Michael 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 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.