PRINCETON, N.J. – For the seventh consecutive year a former ECHL player will be a member of the National Hockey League Champion.
The ECHL is represented in the Stanley Cup Finals by Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish and Ducks players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and by Ottawa players Joe Corvo, Chris Neil and Lawrence Nycholat.
For the sixth consecutive year that the Stanley Cup was awarded, the ECHL was represented in 2006 by Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette, who became the first ECHL coach to hoist the coveted trophy, Chad LaRose, Andrew Hutchinson and assistant athletic trainer Chris Stewart.
The ECHL was represented on each of the 16 teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs including more than 30 players for the second year in a row and over 25 players for the fourth straight season. For the third year in a row there were six former ECHL coaches behind the benches of teams in the NHL postseason. Four referees and three linesmen with ECHL experience worked the Stanley Cup Playoffs, seven of the 15 former league officials who worked in the NHL in 2006-07.
There are 11 former ECHL players whose names are on the Stanley Cup: Chad LaRose and Andrew Hutchinson (Carolina – 2006), Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004), Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Pratt is the only ECHL player to have his name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. There were two NHL head coaches (Peter Laviolette of Carolina and Jim Playfair of Calgary) and nine NHL assistant coaches who have experience in the ECHL.
There have been 329 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL and 184 who have made their debut in the last five seasons, including 26 in 2006-07 and a record 47 in 2005-06. Each of the past four seasons there have been more than 50 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters including a record 57 players in 2006-07. In each of the past five seasons there have been more than 100 players on NHL contracts who have played in the ECHL including 130 in 2006-07.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.
In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.