PRINCETON, N.J. – For the 14th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick; manager of communications and broadcasting Jeremy Zager; and scouts Mark Mullen and Mark Yannetti.
The Ontario Reign are the ECHL affiliate of the Kings. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had a record 93 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 87 from a year ago and marking the 11th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Payne made his professional debut in the ECHL with Greensboro in 1992-93, scoring 35 points (15g-20a) in 57 games. He spent parts of the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons with the Monarchs, while also seeing time in the AHL with Rochester and Providence and in the IHL with Phoenix before making his NHL debut with Boston in 1995-96. He returned to the ECHL in 1998-99, playing his final two professional seasons with the Greenville Grrrowl. He was named head coach of the Pee Dee Pride midway through the 2000-01 season, spending two and a half seasons with the club, before being named head coach of the Alaska Aces in 2003-04. He led the Aces to the 2006 Kelly Cup title, and received the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year in 2006-07. He joins Mike Haviland as the only two coaches to win both a Kelly Cup and Stanley Cup title.
Clifford and Lewis both saw time in ECHL during the 2012-13 season with Clifford posting seven points (4g-3a) in nine games with Ontario and Lewis recording nine points (3g-6a) in six games with the Utah Grizzlies.
Jones made his first professional appearance with the Reign on Oct. 16, 2010, making 26 saves in Ontario’s 5-4 overtime win at Stockton.
King, Nolan and Quick were each part of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2012. A fourth round selection by the Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, King scored nine points (4g-5a) and added nine penalty minutes in 20 games with Ontario during the 2009-10 season. Nolan made his professional debut with the Reign at the end of the 2009-10 season, tallying two points (1g-1a) in three games.
Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, appeared in 38 games with the Reading Royals in 2007-08 posting a 23-11-3 record with one shutout, a 2.79 goals-against average and a save percentage of .905. He earned his first pro win in his second start with the Royals, turning aside all 32 shots he faced in a 3-0 win at Pensacola on Oct. 24, 2007. He also was credited with a goal at 19:25 of the third period when the puck rolled the length of the ice and into the Pensacola net which was empty because goaltender Mike Brodeur had been pulled for an extra attacker. Quick was the last player to touch the puck, so he was credited with the unassisted goal. He is one of just 11 goaltenders in the ECHL’s 24-year history to score a goal.
Zager was the director of public relations for the San Diego Gulls from 2003-06 and with the Bakersfield Condors in 2007-08, and was named the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year in both 2005 and 2006. Mullen, who was an ECHL All-Star with Pee Dee in 2004-05, tallied 27 points (11g-16a) in 54 games with the Pride. Yannetti appeared in 67 games with Johnstown and Columbus in 1997-98, registering 12 points (5g-7a) and adding 43 penalty minutes.
In addition to the members of the Kings, there are 28 other ECHL alums who have been on the Stanley Cup winner: assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo, vice president/assistant to the president Al MacIsaac director of pro scouting Ryan Stewart and general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard (Chicago – 2013); Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2012); assistant coach Geoff Ward, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011); assistant coach Mike Haviland and associate coach John Torchetti (Chicago – 2010); head coach Dan Bylsma and Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009); Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008); assistant coach Dave Farrish, Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007); head coach Peter Laviolette, Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (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).
In addition to Payne, there are six other former ECHL coaches to have won the Stanley Cup. Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career with Wheeling in 1996-97 and was the first former ECHL coach to win the Stanley Cup as a head coach with Carolina in 2006; Dave Farrish, who coached five seasons in the ECHL and was an assistant coach for Anaheim when the Ducks won in 2007; John Torchetti, who was an assistant coach with Greensboro for two seasons and was associate coach for Chicago during the Blackhawks 2010 championship; Mike Haviland, who was head coach in Atlantic City from 2001-04 and Trenton in 2004-05, was an assistant coach for the Blackhawks in 2010; Geoff Ward, who was head coach of Arkansas in 1999-00, was an assistant coach with Boston in 2011; and Tom McVie, who was head coach of Wheeling in 1996-97, was a scout for the Bruins in 2011.
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 49 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the ninth year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 11th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 10th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 541 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 29 who made their debut in 2012-13. The ECHL has had 349 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 285 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
There were seven players have played in the ECHL and NHL in 2013-14: John Curry with Orlando and Minnesota, Kristers Gudlevskis with Florida and Tampa Bay, Magnus Hellberg with Cincinnati and Nashville, Michael Hutchinson with Ontario and Winnipeg, Connor Knapp with Greenville, Florida, Alaska and Buffalo, Joni Ortio with Alaska and Calgary and Patrick Wey with Reading and Washington. Gudlevskis became the first player to play in the ECHL, AHL, Olympics and NHL in the same season.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League 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 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 works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 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 22 teams in 15 states in 2013-14.
• 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 American Hockey League in 2013-14 and for the past 24 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.