PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced today that Joe Ernst has been promoted to Vice President of Hockey Operations and Jeff Zavatsky will assume additional responsibilities in his role as Director of Hockey Operations. Ernst replaces former Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murray, who has accepted a similar position with the American Hockey League.
Ernst is in his 21st season with the ECHL. He was Director of Officiating for the previous two seasons after serving two years as the assistant director. Ernst worked 16 seasons as on-ice official in the ECHL, the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League. He was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as the first inductee in the Referee/Linesman category in 2011. Ernst will continue to oversee the on-ice officials in his role as Vice President of Hockey Operations.
“Joe has dedicated his entire working life to the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “His knowledge of the league, his on-ice training and subsequent front office experience make him an ideal candidate to lead our hockey operation.”
Zavatsky is his third season with the ECHL after serving as the Manager of Hockey Operations for the previous two seasons. In his expanded role, he will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the ECHL Hockey Operations Department. He will continue to be responsible for the organization and release of team rosters, salary cap, player background and immigration matters while also overseeing all transactions and ongoing relations with the PHPA and other leagues.
“Jeff has experience at both the team and League Office and has demonstrated the ability to take on these significant new requirements,” McKenna said.
Murray was with the ECHL for three seasons, including serving as Vice President of Hockey Operations for the previous two seasons. He was responsible for all aspects of the League’s hockey operations department, including on-ice discipline, officiating, ECHL central registry and administration, serving as the league contact with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association and interaction with other leagues on hockey matters.
With the AHL, he replaces former ECHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Rod Pasma, who has accepted a position in the hockey operations department of the National Hockey League in Toronto.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 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 20 teams in 16 states in 2011-12.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 468 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 23 in 2010-11.
• The ECHL has had 275 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.
• 211 ECHL players have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of more than 35 per year.
• 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.
• 31 coaches with an ECHL background were working behind the benches of teams in the NHL in 2010-11 including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and 2011 Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne. It is the seventh 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.
• 22 former ECHL officials are scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2011-12 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, 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, Graham Skilliter and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Matt MacPherson, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the 11th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Boston Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas, radio broadcaster Dave Goucher and scout Tom McVie. Thomas is the first former ECHL player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the sixth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the eighth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former Hampton Roads Admirals left wing Andrew Brunette became the first ECHL alum to play in 1,000 regular-season NHL games when he reached the milestone with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 1, 2011.
• Former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL in 2010-11, marking the second time he has won the award in the past three seasons. Thomas set a single-season NHL record with a .938 save percentage.
• Former ECHL player and current Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was the recipient of the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year in 2010-11.
• ECHL was represented in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game by Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, while former ECHL coaches Mike Haviland and Peter Laviolette served as coaches for the All-Star Game.
• 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.
• In the last seven seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,600 players and in 2010-11 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,339 fans per game in 2010-11, marking the seventh consecutive season and the 19th time in the last 21 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.