The ECHL announced on Thursday that Chris Stewart of the Colorado Eagles is the 2016-17 recipient of the League’s General Manager of the Year award. The award is determined by a vote of ECHL coaches.
Stewart helped oversee an Eagles’ club that finished second in the Mountain Division with 99 points while posting 47 wins, their most since joining the ECHL in 2011-12. The Eagles posted a 17-game winning streak from Jan. 25-March 3, tied for the second-longest streak in ECHL history. Colorado advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the sixth consecutive season in its first season as the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche and American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage.
Stewart was the Eagles' first head coach (2003-04 thru 2007-08), leading the club to two Central Hockey League titles (2005 & 2007) in their first five seasons. As president and general manager, Stewart is also responsible for the day-to-day operations in the Eagles office and all player transactions.
In his first five seasons behind the bench, Stewart guided the Eagles to five consecutive playoff berths -- winning the Northwest Division each time; and three appearances in the CHL's Presidents' Cup Finals. In that time, the Eagles won the Governors' Cup with the best regular season record twice (2004-05 & 2005-06) and the Presidents' Cup as league champions two times as well (2005 & 2007). Colorado produced the best cumulative record (213-77-26) in the CHL during that time and set a CHL expansion team record with a .711 winning percentage in 2003-04.
Stewart stepped away from the bench after the 2007-08 season -- taking two years off to focus on his roles as president & general manager, before returning for the 2010-11 season. In his first season back behind the Eagles' bench, Stewart proved he hadn't lost his touch in again taking the team to the CHL's Presidents' Cup Finals, marking the first time in CHL history that one team reached the Finals five times (four under Stewart).
With the Eagles joining the ECHL for the 2011-12 season, Stewart left the CHL as one of just two coaches in CHL/WPHL history to win the league title with two different teams (he also won with the Huntsville Channel Cats in 1999). He ranked tied for second on the CHL's all-time coaching winning percentage list (.674), and third on the all-time wins list (415).
Before coaching professionally, Stewart spent 15 seasons coaching Canadian Junior "A" hockey where he produced 46 National Hockey League draft picks, coached in six All-Star Games and was named Coach of the Year four times.
ECHL General Manager of the Year Award
2016-17 Chris Stewart, Colorado Eagles
2015-16 Richard Matvichuk, Missouri Mavericks