When the American Hockey League season opens, there will be 10 former East Coast Hockey League head coaches behind the bench for AHL teams.
Peter Horachek, who coached in the ECHL with Nashville in 1990-91 and Trenton in 2001-02, is in his first season with Milwaukee. Jim Playfair, who coached Dayton from 1993-96 and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 1995, is in his third season as the head coach of St. John. In his rookie season with St. John in 2000-01, Playfair led the Flames to their first-ever Calder Cup Championship and was named Minor League Coach of the Year by The Hockey News.
Cleveland head coach Roy Sommer, who coached Roanoke Valley in 1991-92 and Richmond from 1992-96, is in his fifth season as the head coach of San Jose’s top development affiliate. In his final ECHL season in 1995-96, Sommer was named ECHL Coach of the Year after leading Richmond to the Brabham Cup with a league-best 46-11-13 record and a league-record 105 points. He led Richmond to a 41-20-7 record and the Riley Cup Championship in 1994-95. He was named head coach of the East Team for the 1995 ECHL All-Star Game and was named head coach of the North Team for the 1996 ECHL All-Star Game.
Bruce Boudreau, who coached Mississippi from 1996-99, is in his second season as the head coach of Manchester. Boudreau, who coached Lowell in the AHL from 1999-2001, led Mississippi to the 1999 Kelly Cup Championship. Don Granato, who coached in the ECHL with Columbus (Ohio) from 1997-99 and Peoria in 1999-2000, is in his third season with Worcester. Granato, who led Peoria to the 2000 Kelly Cup Championship, was named the AHL Coach of the Year following his rookie season in 2000-01, a season that saw Worcester win a team record 48 games and the AHL regular-season title with 108 points.
Scott Gordon, the first ECHL player to play in the NHL and later the coach for Roanoke, is an assistant coach with Providence. Geoff Ward, who coached Arkansas in its inaugural season, is an assistant coach with Hamilton while Nick Fotiu, who coached Nashville and Johnstown in the ECHL, is an assistant coach with Hartford.
Mark Kumpel, who coached Nashville and Dayton in the ECHL, is an assistant coach with Portland. Scott Allen, who coached the past five seasons with Johnstown, is an assistant with San Antonio.
The ECHL had 400 call ups to the 27 members of the American Hockey League in 2001-02. The 400 call ups were the most since a record 453 call ups to the 19 members of the AHL and the 13 members of the International Hockey League in 1999-2000. A total of 22 teams in the AHL will develop players with ECHL affiliates in 2002-03.