SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that former ECHL center Alex Foster has been named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 22 after scoring five goals and six points in three games for the Toronto Marlies.
The Reading Royals are the ECHL affiliate of the Marlies of the AHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. Former ECHL coach Graeme Townshend is the skating coach for Toronto while former ECHL coach Gord Dineen is an assistant coach for Marlies.
The 25 year old had 11 points (1g-10a) and six penalty minutes in nine games with Columbia as a rookie in 2006-07 before being called up to the AHL where he had 17 points (8g-9a) and 31 penalty minutes in 57 games for Toronto.
Former ECHL goaltender Mike Brodeur won the award for the period ending Nov. 8.
The ECHL has had affiliations with 20 or more teams in the AHL the last nine seasons and in the past eight years there have been more ECHL players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined.
Seven times in the last nine years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including 2006-08 with Scott Gordon, Mike Haviland and Kevin Dineen. Former ECHL coaches won the award four consecutive years from 2001-04 with Don Granato, Bruce Cassidy, Geoff Ward and Claude Noel. The first former ECHL coach to win the award was Peter Laviolette in 1999.
Nine former ECHL players were named Reebok /AHL Player of the Week in 2008-09 and 10 received the honor in 2007-08.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 20 AHL champions including 2009 when 15 of the 26 players who played for Hershey played in the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League. It is the most former ECHL players on an AHL champion surpassing the 14 players for Chicago in 2008. There have been 41 former ECHL players on the last three AHL winners and 59 former ECHL players on the last five champions. The head coach of the Bears, who won their league-record 10th title, was former ECHL player and coach Bob Woods, who is now an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals of the NHL, and the assistant coach was former ECHL assistant Mark French, who is now the head coach of Hershey.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• 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.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 20 teams in 15 states and British Columbia in 2009-10.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• 424 players have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 52 in 2008-09.
• 16 ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Charlotte Checkers and Reading Royals defenseman Dean Arsene (Edmonton on Nov. 16), former Gwinnett Gladiators and 2006 ECHL All-Star right wing Guillaume Desbiens (Vancouver on Oct. 11), former Cincinnati Cyclones center and 2008 ECHL Most Valuable Player David Desharnais (Montreal on Nov. 25), former Stockton Thunder and 2007 ECHL All-Star goaltender Devin Dubnyk (Edmonton on Nov. 28), former Las Vegas Wranglers, Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Deryk Engelland (Pittsburgh on Nov. 10), former Idaho Steelheads center Aaron Gagnon (Dallas on Oct. 16), former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Shaun Heshka (Phoenix on Nov. 7), former Wheeling Nailers right wing David Laliberte (Philadelphia on Oct. 31), former Wheeling Nailers center Mark Letestu (Pittsburgh on Nov. 14), former Stockton Thunder right wing Colin McDonald (Edmonton on Nov. 27), former Stockton Thunder center Ryan O’Marra (Edmonton on Nov. 10), former Reading Royals right wing Scott Parse (Los Angeles on Oct. 24), former Charlotte Checkers center Tom Pyatt (Montreal on Nov. 5), former Johnstown Chiefs defenseman Jay Rosehill (Toronto on Oct. 1), former Bakersfield Condors center MacGregor Sharp (Anaheim on Nov. 19), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Francis Wathier (Dallas on Oct. 21) and former Cincinnati Cyclones right wing J.T. Wyman (Montreal on Nov. 24).
• 2 players have played in the ECHL and the NHL this season: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim and MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim.
• The ECHL has had 232 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.
• 168 ECHL players have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of more than 33 per year.
• ECHL had a record 78 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 71 from a year ago and marking the seventh year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
• Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team and the league has affiliations with 28 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 13th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
• 26 coaches with an ECHL background are working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau and New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. It is the fifth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. 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.
• 20 former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2009-10 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Herbert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Bryan Pancich, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers.
• ECHL was represented for the ninth year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, player Ruslan Fedotenko, equipment managers Dana Heinze and Dave Zeigler, athletic trainers Chris Stewart and Scott Adams and scout Derek Clancey. There were 43 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fourth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the sixth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
• Former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the NHL and was also presented the William Jennings Trophy with teammate Manny Fernandez as the goaltenders finishing the season having surrendered the fewest goals. Thomas was also named First Team All-NHL after registering a career-high 36 wins while leading the NHL with a goals-against average of 2.10 and a save percentage of .933 to help the Bruins finish with the most wins (53) and points (116) since 1971-72.
• ECHL was represented in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game by Mark Streit of the New York Islanders and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins while former ECHL players Dan Ellis, Jonathan Quick and Tomas Vokoun were all selected as recipients of the NHL’s “Three Stars” award in 2008-09.
• Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
• Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• The ECHL averaged 4,258 fans per game in 2008-09 and is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last two seasons. It is the fifth consecutive season and the 17th time in the last 19 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 16th year in a row and reached the 3 million mark in the fewest number of games since 2005-06.
• There have been more than 74 million fans who have attended almost 17,000 games since the ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states.
• The Ontario Reign, the City of Ontario and Citizens Business Bank Arena will host the 18th Annual ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey on Jan. 20, 2010 and the 13th Annual All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 19, 2010.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.