Toledo's Watson named ECHL Coach of the Year

The ECHL on Tuesday announced that Dan Watson of the Toledo Walleye is the 2016-17 recipient of the John Brophy Award as the league’s Coach of the Year.

The John Brophy Award is the trophy presented annually to the ECHL coach selected to have contributed the most to his team’s success as selected in a vote of league coaches. The trophy is named for John Brophy, who won a record three ECHL titles with Hampton Roads in 1991, 1992 and 1998, and was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.

Aaron Schneekloth of Colorado finished second in the voting, followed by Brampton’s Colin Chaulk, Cail MacLean of Adirondack and Florida’s Brad Ralph.

The winner of the Defenseman of the Year award will be announced on Wednesday.

Watson led the Walleye to a 51-17-4 record for 106 points and the club’s second Brabham Cup championship in the last three seasons. Toledo won its third straight division title, capturing the Central Division championship after winning North Division titles each of the previous two seasons. Watson served as the head coach for the ECHL All-Stars during the 2017 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 18, leading the All-Stars to an 8-7 win over Adirondack. The Walleye led the league in goals per game (4.19), goals-against per game (2.65), power play (25.1 percent) and penalty kill (86.8 percent), becoming the first team in the ECHL’s 29-year history to lead the league in all four categories in the same season.

Watson was named the third head coach in Toledo Walleye history on June 29, 2016. For the previous seven seasons, Watson had served as assistant coach and associate head coach for Toledo. Over that time, Watson helped guide the Walleye to four playoff appearances (2010, 2013, 2015, 2016), a Brabham Cup championship (2014-15) and the best Eastern Conference regular season record in back-to-back seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16). He also served 21 games as interim head coach to close out the 2013-14 season.

Watson played three seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, being named the 1998-99 Scholastic Player of the Year at Sarnia and the 1999-00 Defensive Player of the Year, and playing in the 1998-99 OHL All-Star Game. Following his junior career, Watson played seven professional seasons in the AHL, UHL, and ECHL, with 447 games played, 89 points (23g-66a) and 394 penalty minutes. He was captain of Long Beach of the ECHL from 2004-06.

John Brophy Award Winners (ECHL Coach of the Year)2016-17     Dan Watson, Toledo Walleye2015-16     Richard Matvichuk, Missouri Mavericks2014-15     Derek Lalonde, Toledo Walleye2013-14     Spencer Carbery, South Carolina Stingrays2012-13     Jarrod Skalde, Cincinnati Cyclones2011-12     Rob Murray, Alaska Aces                        John Wroblewski, Gwinnett Gladiators2010-11     Brent Thompson, Alaska Aces2009-10     Derek Laxdal, Idaho Steelheads2008-09     Rick Kowalsky, Trenton Devils2007-08     Chuck Weber, Cincinnati Cyclones2006-07     Davis Payne, Alaska Aces2005-06     Glen Gulutzan, Las Vegas Wranglers2004-05     Nick Vitucci, Toledo Storm2003-04     Pat Bingham, Wheeling Nailers2002-03     Claude Noel, Toledo Storm2001-02     Dave Farrish, Louisiana Ice Gators2000-01     Troy Ward, Trenton Titans1999-00     Bob Ferguson, Florida Everblades1998-99     Bob Ferguson, Florida Everblades1997-98     Chris Nilan, Chesapeake IceBreakers1996-97     Brian McCutcheon, Columbus Chill1995-96     Roy Sommer, Richmond Renegades1994-95     Jim Playfair, Dayton Bombers1993-94     Barry Smith, Knoxville Cherokees1992-93     Kurt Kleinendorst, Raleigh IceCaps1991-92     Doug Sauter, Winston-Salem Thunderbirds1990-91     Don Jackson, Knoxville Cherokees1989-90     Dave Allison, Virginia Lancers1988-89     Ron Hansis, Erie Panthers