Letter From Gary Bettman
National Hockey League

As the puck drops for the 2005-06 ECHL season, the entire NHL family sends you warm wishes for an outstanding campaign. We look forward to the return of the Mississippi Sea Wolves next season and hope this year’s Stanley Cup fund-raising tour of ECHL cities will serve as a symbol of our commitment to help those so dramatically affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The connection between our Leagues is a strong one. Over the years, more than 250 players have gone on to the NHL after playing in the ECHL. One such alumnus, Ruslan Fedotenko, played an extremely significant role in the Stanley Cup championship won by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. Each of our past five champions has included a player who graduated from the ECHL.

This year, the addition of the Phoenix RoadRunners, the Stockton Thunder and the Utah Grizzlies increases the number of ECHL clubs to 26 and will, no doubt, enlarge the League’s fan base. ECHL attendance surpassed four million last season, and I have am confident that 2005-06 will be received with the same fervor by the most passionate fans in sports.

Enjoy the season!