PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Toledo goaltender Joey MacDonald made his National Hockey League debut on Thursday in Detroit’s 5-1 loss at San Jose. MacDonald, who entered the game at 14:32 of the first period and made 13 saves on 15 shots, becomes the 304th player to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL and is the first this season.
The 26-year-old began his professional career in the ECHL in 2001-02 and was 12-15-7 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.88 and a save percentage of .922 in 38 games with the Storm. He returned to Toledo on a rehabilitation assignment last season and in his only appearance made 25 saves in a 4-1 win against Trenton on Nov. 12, 2005.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League in 2006-07, marking the 10th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There were a record 47 former ECHL players who made their NHL debut last season, including five goaltenders who played a game in both leagues. Since 2000-01 there have been 159 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL and in 2005-06 there were 112 former ECHL players who played in the NHL and all 30 teams had a former ECHL player take the ice for at least one game.
There are two NHL head coaches (Peter Laviolette and Jim Playfair) and nine NHL assistant coaches who have an ECHL background. The ECHL was represented for the sixth consecutive year on the Stanley Cup champion in 2006 by Laviolette, who is the first ECHL coach to hoist the coveted trophy, Chad LaRose, Andrew Hutchinson and assistant athletic trainer Chris Stewart.