Gwinnett Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle has been named the head coach of the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He replaces former ECHL coach Glen Gulutzan who was named head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars last month.
Pyle spent the previous eight seasons with the Gladiators, leading the club to the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of their first six seasons, including a trip to the 2006 Kelly Cup Finals. He was selected to coach in three consecutive ECHL All-Star Games from 2004 through 2006, tying him with Gulutzan, Davis Payne and Chris Cichocki for the most selections in league history. Pyle was 446-323-91 in 12 years as an ECHL head coach, having been head coach and director of hockey operations for Mobile from 1998-2002 prior to the team voluntarily suspending operations in preparation for its move to Gwinnett. He is third all-time among ECHL coaches with 446 regular-season wins and 860 career regular-season games.
He becomes the 13th coach in the American Hockey League with ECHL ties, including 12 who have coached in the ECHL.
Seven times in the last 11 years the winner of the AHL Coach of the Year award has been a former ECHL coach including Scott Gordon, Mike Haviland and Kevin Dineen in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 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.
In the last eight seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,500 players and in 2010-11 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the AHL include Brendan Burke of the Peoria Rivermen, Josh Fisher of the Texas Stars, Josh Heller of the Albany Devils, Mike Kelly of the Springfield Falcons, Eric Lindquist of the Worcester Sharks, Jason Lockhart of the Syracuse Crunch, Pete Michaud of the Norfolk Admirals, Joe O’Donnell of the Houston Aeros, Bob Rotruck of the Adirondack Phantoms, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Jason Shaya of the Charlotte Checkers, Dan Weiss of the San Antonio Rampage and Grady Whittenburg of the Binghamton Senators.