Seventeen of the 23 coaches in the ECHL return behind the bench for the same team as last season while six begin careers with new teams, including two first-year head coaches who were assistants in the league a year ago.
Chuck Weber, who is in his third season as head coach of Cincinnati, became only the third coach in 20 years to win both the regular season and postseason championship. The Cyclones were 55-12-5 and had 115 points in the regular season and finished with 71 combined wins in the regular season and postseason. The 71 combined wins break the ECHL record of 69 wins by Alaska in 2006 while the 55 wins and 115 points are the second most in league history behind Louisiana’s 116 points and 56 wins in 2001-02. Cincinnati set the ECHL record with 17 wins in a row from Jan. 16-Feb. 29, breaking the record of 14 by Knoxville from Dec. 28, 1993-Jan. 29, 1994 and Louisiana from Nov. 23-Dec. 22, 2001.
Glen Gulutzan returns for his sixth season behind the bench in Las Vegas which had 106 points in 2007-08 to become the first team in the history of the league to score 100 points in three consecutive seasons. The Wranglers had 112 points in 2005-06 and won the regular season title with 106 points in 2006-07. Las Vegas finished first in the National Conference for the second year in a row and advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals.
Greg Puhalski is back for his first full season in Wheeling after being hired on Jan. 2. He coached Toledo from 1994-98 and his winning percentage of .692 (89-36-13) in his first two seasons with Toledo is the highest in ECHL history for a coach after two years.
John Marks enters his first season behind the bench in Augusta and his record 15th season in the ECHL, having coached Pensacola in 2007-08, Greenville from 1998-2006 and Charlotte from 1993-98. He has a record of 485-412-93 and leads the ECHL in games (990), wins (485) and losses (412). He was the first coach to lead two different teams to the ECHL title, coaching Charlotte to the Riley Cup in 1996 and Greenville to the Kelly Cup in 2002.
Mark Morrison is in his second full season as head coach in Victoria which finished 42-23-7 in 2007-08 setting team records with 42 wins, 24 home wins, 18 road wins and 91 points. He was selected to coach in the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game and led the Salmon Kings to the West Division regular season title and their first Kelly Cup Playoffs series win.
Keith McCambridge returns as head coach of Alaska after going 41-26-5 and advancing to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in his first season in 2007-08.
Malcolm Cameron is in his first season with the Florida Everblades bench after leading Texas to their first back-to-back Kelly Cup Playoff appearances the last two seasons. The Wildcatters set team records for wins, home wins, road wins and points in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Cameron has coached the American Conference in the ECHL All-Star Game the last two years and he has a career ECHL record of 208-107-45.
Coaches in the North Division returning for their second season are Ian Herbers in Johnstown and Steve Martinson in Elmira. Johnstown advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the third straight season in Herbers first season while Elmira reached the postseason in its inaugural season after finishing second in the division at 41-24-7.
Kevin Colley is in his first season in Utah and is the youngest head coach in the league at 29 years old. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs after leading the postseason with 13 goals and 20 points to help Atlantic City win the title.
Returning for his sixth year in Gwinnett is Jeff Pyle, who is 354-221-69 in eight years as an ECHL head coach, ranking third in career wins and fourth in career games. The Gladiators have won 40 games and advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in each of their first five seasons in Georgia. Pyle was selected to coach three consecutive ECHL All-Star Games from 2004-06 which ties him with Glen Gulutzan, Davis Payne and Chris Cichocki for the most selections.
Derek Wilkinson returns for his fifth full season as head coach of Charlotte while Steffon Walby is back for his second season in Mississippi. Wilkinson is 160-132-26 and has led the Checkers to the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of his first four seasons. Walby led Mississippi to its fifth consecutive Kelly Cup Playoffs appearance in his first season.
Rick Kowalsky is in his third season as head coach of Trenton while Bill McDonald returns for his second year behind the bench in Dayton. Kowalsky is 65-67-12 in his first two seasons including 36-31-5 and a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs in 2006-07. McDonald, who has coached for more than 20 years, led the Bombers to their second straight and 13th overall Kelly Cup Playoff appearance in 2007-08.
Chris Cichocki is in his fourth season in Stockton while Marty Raymond returns for his fifth full season as head coach in Bakersfield. Cichocki, who has led the Thunder to back-to-back postseason appearances, was selected to coach the ECHL All-Star Game in 2001, 2003 and 2007 tying him with Glen Gulutzan, Jeff Pyle and Davis Payne for the most selections. Raymond is 153-113-39 as head coach and has led the Condors to four consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff appearances.
Coaches returning for their sophomore season are Jared Bednar in South Carolina and Brad Church in Phoenix. In Bednar’s first season the Stingrays finished second in the South Division and set a team record with 47 wins. South Carolina returned to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for a league record 14th time and won three decisive Game 5s to advance to the conference finals before losing to Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati.
Derek Laxdal in Idaho and Matt Thomas in Fresno return for their fourth season. Laxdal is 125-67-24 in the regular season and 19-14 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs as the Steelheads have won 40 games and reached the postseason each of his first three seasons. Idaho captured the Kelly Cup championship in his second season and was 43-21-8 in 2005-06 to set team records for wins and points (94). The Falcons have reached the Kelly Cup Playoffs in each of Thomas’ first three seasons after missing the postseason the first two years after joining the ECHL as an expansion team in 2003-04. After winning its first division title and reaching 100 points for the first time ever, Fresno was one goal away from the Kelly Cup Finals in 2006, losing in double overtime of Game 7 in the conference finals to Kelly Cup champion Alaska.
Jason Nobili, who has been an assistant coach for Florida the last four seasons, takes over in Reading for Karl Taylor who is in his first season as head coach in Ontario. Taylor was head coach in Reading for three seasons and in 2006 he was chosen to coach in the ECHL All-Star Game. During his tenure the Royals were 112-82-22 and advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs two times while having more than 100 call ups to the American Hockey League
Most Career Games Coached
990 – John Marks, Charlotte, 1993-98; Greenville, 1998-2006; Pensacola, 2007-08; August, 2008-present
882 – John Brophy, Hampton Roads, 1989-2000; Wheeling, 2001-03
670 – Jeff Brubaker, Greensboro, 1989-95; Jacksonville 1995-96; Tallahassee, 1998-99; Greensboro, 1999-2001
644 – Jeff Pyle, Mobile, 1998-02; Gwinnett, 2003-present
637 – Frank Anzalone, Nashville, 1991-92; Roanoke, 1993-98; Pee Dee, 1999-2001; Johnstown, 2005-07
Most Career Coaching Wins
485 – John Marks, Charlotte, 1993-98; Greenville, 1998-2006; Pensacola, 2007-08; August, 2008-present
480 – John Brophy, Hampton Roads, 1989-2000; Wheeling, 2001-03
354 – Jeff Pyle, Mobile, 1998-02; Gwinnett, 2003-present
332 – Frank Anzalone, Nashville, 1991-92; Roanoke, 1993-98; Pee Dee, 1999- 2001; Johnstown, 2005-07
317 – Jeff Brubaker, Greensboro, 1989-95; Jacksonville 1995-96; Tallahassee, 1998-99; Greensboro, 1999-2001.