The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals, Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders and Peter Laviolette of the Carolina Hurricanes. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. There are 15 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
There have been 358 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, and 101 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL in the last four seasons, including a record 47 in 2005-06, and there were 72 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters.
The ECHL is represented for the eighth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2008 by Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings.
ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,300 call ups involving more than 1,200 players. In each of the last three seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL in the same season.
For the fifth straight year and the 11th time in the last 12 years, the ECHL had more than four million fans attend its games in 2007-08 and averaged 4,174 fans per game.
The total attendance for the regular season and the Kelly Cup Playoffs is twice as many fans as the total attendance for the WNBA, Arena Football League and Major League Soccer and four times greater than total attendance for both the National Lacrosse League and af2.
There have been more than 66 million fans who have attended over 15,000 games since the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states.
The Reading Royals, the City of Reading and the Sovereign Center will host the 17th Annual ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21, 2009 and the 12th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 20, 2009.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.