Dear ECHL Fans,
Welcome to the 31st year of ECHL Hockey and an exciting 2018-19 Season. After an extremely successful 30th Anniversary Season in 2017-18, this Season represents a year of transition and a look to the future as we embark on the next era of our League, building on the history and heritage that have made the ECHL the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League in North America.
During the 2017-18 Season, the ECHL welcomed over 4.3 million fans, and surpassed the 4,000 mark in average attendance for the 13th consecutive Season and the 26th time in the last 28 years. We pride ourselves on offering affordable entertainment to the communities we serve, welcoming sport fans, families, businesses, and groups of all sizes to enjoy an outing together and take in the exciting ECHL action and atmosphere.
In addition, our Teams made an impact off the ice in their local communities as well, donating over $3.6 million to charitable and non-profit organizations during the 2017-18 Season, bringing the total amount donated in the last seven years to more than $30 million. This is on top of the countless hours our Players and front office staff dedicate to local schools, hospitals, and charities to become an integral part of the community.
On the hockey front, we congratulate the Colorado Eagles, who captured their second consecutive Kelly Cup championship in 2018, defeating the Florida Everblades in an action packed seven-game series. As the Eagles transition to the American Hockey League for this upcoming Season, we will in turn welcome the Maine Mariners and Newfoundland Growlers, both long time historical minor hockey league markets, to the ECHL family to grow our loyal fanbase.
The past 30 years have also allowed the ECHL to unquestionably become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process, as 643 players have gone on to play in the NHL after their time in the ECHL, including 18 who made their NHL debut in 2017-18. Furthermore, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL as they have used the ECHL to develop their career. For the 2018-19 season, 15 of the 31 AHL head coaches and over 40 coaches on NHL staffs have ECHL ties, with approximately one-third of the current on-ice officials in the NHL having spent time honing their skills in the ECHL.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 18 Stanley Cup Champions including in 2018 with Washington Capitals’ players Jay Beagle, Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby, Associate Coach Todd Reirden, Professional Development Coach Olaf Kolzig, Pro Scout/Minor League Operations Jason Fitzsimmons, Manager of Hockey Analytics H.T. Lenz, Head Athletic Trainer Jason Serbus and Equipment Assistant Dave Marin. Of particular note, Jay Beagle becomes the first person in hockey history to win the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, AHL’s Calder Cup, and NHL Stanley Cup, an absolutely amazing feat and great story for hockey.
The ECHL will have affiliations with over 25 NHL Teams in the 2018-19 Season, and representation from all of the 31 teams in the NHL over the course of the upcoming year, marking the 22nd consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. In addition, for the 29th Season in a row, the ECHL was represented on the AHL Calder Cup champion with five players on the 2018 champion Toronto Marlies.
Thank you on behalf of the ECHL and all of our Teams for your continued support and we hope that you and your family enjoy following your favorite ECHL club through what promises to be a fantastic season of ECHL hockey and entertainment.