ECHL represented on Stanley Cup champion for 20th straight year
For the 20th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay Lightning players Yanni Gourde and Carter Verhaeghe; Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde; Director of Player Development JP Cote; Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Berger and Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dave Mishkin.
The Orlando Solar Bears are the ECHL affiliate of the Lightning. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 25 of the 31 teams in the NHL in 2019-20, marking the 23rd consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had 57 players on NHL opening-day rosters, marking the 17th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Gourde posted 10 points (4g-6a) in eight games with San Francisco during the 2012-13 season before adding 34 points (15g-19a) in 30 games with Kalamazoo in 2013-14 while Verhaeghe totaled 57 points (20g-37a) in 36 games with Missouri during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. He added 11 points (2g-9a) in 10 games during the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Lalonde was head coach for Toledo for two seasons from 2014-16, posting an overall record of 97-35-12 and leading the Walleye to back-to-back division titles. In 2014-15, he received the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year as he led Toledo to the Brabham Cup championship as ECHL regular-season champions with a 50-15-7 record and a 58-point improvement over the prior season, marking the best single-season turnaround in ECHL history.
Cote is in his first season in the Lightning’s front office after concluding a 15-year pro career. He posted three points (1g-2a) in 10 games with the Ontario Reign during the 2011-12 season.
Berger is in his third season as a member of the Lightning’s equipment staff. He won a Kelly Cup title while serving as equipment manager for the Florida Everblades during the 2011-12 season.
Mishkin, who has served as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for Tampa Bay since the 2002-03 season, began his broadcasting career with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs in 1991-92. After three seasons with the Chiefs, he moved on to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for eight seasons prior to joining the Lightning.
In addition to the members of the Lightning, the following ECHL alums have been on the Stanley Cup winner:
- Goaltender Jordan Binnington; Executive Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer Steve Chapman; Vice President, Broadcast and Content Development Chris Kerber; Assistant GM and Director of Amateur Scouting Bill Armstrong; Pro Scout Dave Farrish; Assistant Athletic Trainer Dustin Flynn and Equipment Assistant Andrew Dvorak (St. Louis – 2019)
- 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, Equipment Assistant Dave Marin and players Jay Beagle, Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby (Washington – 2018)
- Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; players Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Mark Streit; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey; Amateur Scouts Ryan Bowness and Warren Young; Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze (Pittsburgh – 2017)
- Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; player Tom Kuhnhackl; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey; Amateur Scout Warren Young; Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze (Pittsburgh – 2016)
- Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac; General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard; Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart; players Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins and Pro Scout Derek Booth (Chicago – 2015)
- Assistant Coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford; Trevor Lewis; Martin Jones; Dwight King; Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2014)
- 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 and players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011)
- Vice President Al MacIsaac, Assistant Coach Mike Haviland, Associate Coach John Torchetti and Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart (Chicago – 2010)
- Head Coach Dan Bylsma and player Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009)
- Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008)
- Assistant Coach Dave Farrish and players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007)
- Head Coach Peter Laviolette and players 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)
- Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995).
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers by 70 former players and 25 coaches on the 24 teams. It was the 15th year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 17th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 16th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 678 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 16 who made their debut in 2019-20. The ECHL has had 484 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 422 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 15 seasons for an average of more than 28 per year.
There was one player who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2019-20: Dan Vladar with Atlanta and Boston.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Josh Bogorad of the Dallas Stars, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL players Paul Bissonnette and Tyson Nash are analysts with the Arizona Coyotes, former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets and former ECHL players Shane Hnidy and Mike McKenna are analysts with the Golden Knights.
There were 37 former ECHL officials who worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2019-20 with referees Reid Anderson, Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Mitch Dunning, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Michael Markovic, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Jesse Marquis, Bevin Mills, Kory Nagy and Bryan Pancich.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 26 teams in 19 states and two Canadian provinces for its 33rd season in 2020-21. There have been 678 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 16 who made their NHL debuts in the 2019-20 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 25 of the 31 NHL teams in 2019-20, marking the 23rd consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.