PRINCETON, N.J. – The Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League announced that they have named former ECHL coach Claude Noel as an assistant coach.
The American Conference champion Dayton Bombers are the ECHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets of the NHL and the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.
In addition to Noel there are 10 assistant coaches in the NHL who have ECHL experience with Dave Farrish of the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, Jim Playfair of the Calgary Flames, Brian McCutcheon of the Buffalo Sabres, Charlie Huddy of the Edmonton Oilers, Barry Smith of the Vancouver Canucks, Peter Horachek of the Nashville Predators, John Torchetti and Ryan Stewart of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jamie Kompon of the Los Angeles Kings and Daniel Lacroix of the New York Islanders.
In 2002-03, Noel led Toledo to a 47-15-10 record and the Brabham Cup, awarded annually to the ECHL team with the most regular season points, one year after Toledo finished last in the Northwest Division with a 28-34-10 record. The Storm’s 38-point increase from 2001-02 to 2002-03 was the fifth-largest in league history at the time and remains the 10th-largest ever. Toledo set a team record with 29 home wins while its 104 points tied the team record for most points as Noel was selected by his peers to be a Co-Coach for the Northern Conference in the 2003 ECHL All-Star Game won by the Northern Conference. He began his career in the ECHL as head coach of the Roanoke Valley Rebels in the ECHL in 1990-91 and was head coach of the Dayton Bombers in the ECHL from 1991-93.
He is the only coach to be named Coach of the Year in both the ECHL (2002-03) and the American Hockey League (2003-04). In his first season in Milwaukee he led the Admirals to the league’s best regular season record and the Calder Cup, the only championship in team history.
The AHL Coach of the Year award has been won by former ECHL coaches six times beginning in 1999 with former Wheeling and current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette and continuing in 2007 with former Atlantic City and Trenton coach Mike Haviland. The award was won by ECHL coaches four years in a row from 2001-04 with Noel (2004), Geoff Ward (2003), Bruce Cassidy (2002) and Don Granato (2001).
There are 15 assistant coaches in the AHL who have ECHL experience with Scott Allen of Quad City, Pat Bingham of Bridgeport, Dan Bylsma of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, David Cunniff of Worcester, J.J. Daigneault of Hartford, Kevin Dean of Lowell, Ted Dent of Norfolk, Gord Dineen of Portland, Neil Little of Philadelphia, Moe Mantha of Rochester, Davis Payne of Peoria, Kjell Samuelsson of Philadelphia, Matt Shaw of Houston and Bob Woods of Hershey while Scott White is director of hockey operations for Iowa.
There are 10 head coaches in the AHL who have ECHL experience with Dave Allison of Iowa, Dave Baseggio of Peoria, Bruce Boudreau of Hershey, Jack Capuano of Bridgeport, Kevin Dineen of Portland, Scott Gordon of Providence, Mike Haviland of Norfolk, Kurt Kleinendorst of Lowell, Roy Sommer of Worcester and Geoff Ward of Springfield.
There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season. More than 100 players under contract to NHL teams have played in the ECHL this season.
The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.