ECHL represented on Stanley Cup champion for 22nd straight year
Bednar is first coach to win ECHL, AHL and NHL titles
For the 22nd consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Colorado Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar; Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt; goaltender Darcy Kuemper; Head Equipment Manager J.C. Ihrig and Assistant Equipment Manager Donny White
The Utah Grizzlies are the ECHL affiliate of the Avalanche. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 27 of the 32 teams in the NHL in 2021-22, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had 70 players on NHL opening-day rosters, marking the 19th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Bednar, who was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2020, is the second former ECHL coach to lead his team to a Stanley Cup title, joining former Wheeling Nailers’ head coach Peter Laviolette, who led Carolina to the 2006 championship. Bednar is one of six individuals to have his name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times, winning as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and as the Stingrays’ head coach in 2009. He is the first coach to lead a team to a Kelly Cup, Calder Cup (Lake Erie - 2016) and Stanley Cup championship in hockey history, and he joins Jay Beagle, who won the Kelly Cup with Idaho in 2007, the Calder Cup with Hershey in 2009 and 2010 and the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018, as the only individuals to win a championship in the ECHL, AHL and NHL.
Pratt, who is in his seventh season as an assistant coach for the Avalanche, played four games with the Richmond Renegades in 1995-96, before going on to a nearly 600-game NHL career, which included a Stanley Cup title with Tampa Bay in 2004.
Kuemper went 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and a save percentage of .941 in eight appearances with the Ontario Reign in the 2011-12 season before seeing action in three games with the Orlando Solar Bears during the 2012-13 season.
Ihrig was equipment manager for the Huntington Blizzard during the 1994-95 season while White was equipment manager for the Mississippi SeaWolves from 2007-09.
In addition to the members of the Avalanche, the following ECHL alums have been on the Stanley Cup winner:
- Yanni Gourde; Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde; Director of Player Development JP Cote; Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Berger and Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dave Mishkin (Tampa Bay – 2021)
- 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 (Tampa Bay – 2020)
- 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)
- 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 (Washington – 2018)
- Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Mark Streit;Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart; Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey and Amateur Scouts Ryan Bowness and Warren Young (Pittsburgh – 2017)
- Tom Kuhnhackl; Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart; Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey and Amateur Scout Warren Young; (Pittsburgh – 2016)
- Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins; Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac; General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard; Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart and Pro Scout Derek Booth (Chicago – 2015)
- Kyle Clifford; Trevor Lewis; Martin Jones; Dwight King; Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick and Assistant Coach Davis Payne (Los Angeles – 2014)
- Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo; Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon; 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)
- Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas and Assistant Coach Geoff Ward (Boston – 2011)
- Vice President Al MacIsaac, Assistant Coach Mike Haviland, Associate Coach John Torchetti and Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart (Chicago – 2010)
- Ruslan Fedotenko and Head Coach Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh – 2009)
- Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008)
- Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and Assistant Coach Dave Farrish (Anaheim – 2007)
- Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose and Head Coach Peter Laviolette (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 Playoffs by 47 former players and 22 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the 19th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 18th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 727 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 29 who made their debut in 2021-22. The ECHL has had 533 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 471 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 17 seasons for an average of more than 27 per year.
There were five players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2021-22: Hugo Alnefelt (Orlando and Tampa Bay), Jon Gillies (Maine and St. Louis/New Jersey), Cameron Hillis (Trois-Rivières and Montreal), Michael Houser (Cincinnati and Buffalo) and Jack LaFontaine (Norfolk and Carolina).
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, Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights and Everett Fitzhugh of the Seattle Kraken. Former ECHL player Tyson Nash is an analyst with the Arizona Coyotes, former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets, former ECHL player Tripp Tracy is an analyst with the Carolina Hurricanes and former ECHL player Shane Hnidy is an analyst with the Golden Knights.
There are 41 former ECHL officials who worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2021-22 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, Carter Sandlak, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Mitchell Hunt, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Jesse Marquis, Kilian McNamara, Bevin Mills, C.J. Murray, Kory Nagy, Ben O’Quinn and Bryan Pancich. Hebert, McCauley, Rooney, Barton and Daisy were selected to work the Stanley Cup Final, marking the most officials with ECHL ties ever selected to work the Final series.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 34th season in 2021-22. There have been 727 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 29 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2021-22 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 32 NHL teams in 2021-22, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has 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.