“Our company is excited about the opportunity to represent the ECHL and build on the history that I have with the league,” said General Sports Alliances President Chris Foy, who began his sports management career as the director of sales and marketing for the South Carolina Stingrays after playing three seasons in the ECHL. “With each team having a strong, loyal fan base and regional appeal, I feel GSA will be able to introduce the ECHL to several prospects and provide the league with valuable partners.”
“Chris’ understanding of our league and General Sports Alliances background related to hockey makes them a valuable asset for the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “We look forward to working with General Sports Alliances in building our stable of league partners.”
Foy was vice president of sales for the original International Hockey League before being hired by The Bonham Group to launch its sponsorship sales division which became one of the most active sales agencies within the naming rights industry in North America. He later was vice president of national sales for Live Nation, the world’s largest “live” entertainment company, before joining General Sports Alliances.
GSA is a national sports marketing firm that specializes in sponsorship and sales representation with a diverse client list encompassing professional sports organizations, high-profile entertainment properties and major public venues. Current clients include the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks and the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League as well as the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball, Brawn GP F1 Racing Team, Live Sports Radio, Derby County Football Club, XTERRA and Live Nation.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• 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 15 states and British Columbia in 2009-10.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League marking the 13th consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 407 former ECHL players have played in NHL.
• 151 former ECHL players have played their first NHL game in the last four seasons.
• Record 52 former ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2008-09 and nine players played in both the ECHL and the NHL: goaltenders Matt Climie (Idaho and Dallas), Riku Helenius (Elmira, Mississippi and Tampa Bay), Chris Holt (Alaska and St. Louis), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina and Washington) and Marek Schwarz (Alaska and St. Louis), defensemen Wes O’Neill (Johnstown and Colorado), Raymond Macias (Johnstown and Colorado) and Kevin Quick (Augusta, Elmira and Tampa Bay) and right wing Joel Rechlicz (Utah and New York Islanders).
• There were 72 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters.
• ECHL has been represented on last nine Stanley Cup champions including 2009 with Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, player Ruslan Fedotenko, equipment managers Dana Heinze and Dave Zeigler, athletic trainers Chris Stewart and Scott Adams and scout Derek Clancey.
• Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. 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. Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006.
• There are 15 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
• Nineteen former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2009-10 with David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain 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.
• ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 20 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,500 call-ups involving more than 1,300 players and in 2008-09 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.