NHL Conference Finals Have Seven ECHL Players, Two Coaches

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL is represented in the Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Finals by seven former players and two former coaches.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Buffalo Sabres have assistant coach Brian McCutcheon, who was ECHL Coach of the Year in 1996-97 with Columbus, while the Ottawa Senators have Joe Corvo, Chris Neil and Lawrence Nycholat. In the Western Conference Finals, the Anaheim Ducks have assistant coach Dave Farrish, who was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2001-02 with Louisiana and in 2004-05 with Pensacola, Francois Beauchemin and George Parros while the Detroit Red Wings have Matt Ellis and Stefan Liv, who played for Toledo in 2006-07.

The ECHL had 34 players, six coaches and seven former on-ice officials when the Stanley Cup Playoffs began and all 16 teams have a former ECHL player or coach. It is the second year in a row that there have been more than 30 former ECHL players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the fourth straight season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have played in the NHL postseason. It is the third straight time that the ECHL has had at least six coaches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The ECHL has been represented on the last six Stanley Cup champions including 2006 by Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette, who became the first ECHL coach to hoist the coveted trophy, Chad LaRose, Andrew Hutchinson and assistant athletic trainer Chris Stewart.

There are 11 former ECHL players whose names are on the Stanley Cup: Chad LaRose and Andrew Hutchinson (Carolina – 2006), Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004), Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Pratt is the only ECHL player to have his name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.

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 have been 329 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL and 184 who have made their debut in the last five seasons. There were a record 47 former ECHL players who played their first NHL game in 2005-06, and there were 112 former ECHL players who played in the NHL a year ago, including five goaltenders who played in both the ECHL and the NHL.

There have been over 50 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters each of the past four seasons including a record 57 players this season. In each of the past five seasons there have been more than 100 players on NHL contracts who have played in the ECHL including 130 in 2006-07.

There have been 26 ECHL players who have played their first NHL game this season: former Greenville and Richmond right wing Krys Barch (Dallas on Jan. 15), former Mississippi defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (Nashville on Feb. 6), former Reading goaltender Barry Brust (Los Angeles on Nov. 30), former Wheeling left wing Daniel Carcillo (Phoenix on Mar. 3), former Dayton left wing Riley Cote (Philadelphia on Mar. 24), former Toledo center Matt Ellis (Detroit on Dec. 18), former Wheeling defenseman Drew Fata (New York Islanders on Feb. 4), former Reading defenseman Jeff Finger (Colorado on Feb. 20), former Bakersfield and Reading goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji (Los Angeles on Jan. 13), former Charlotte defenseman Daniel Girardi (New York Rangers on Jan. 27), former Long Beach goaltender Jaroslav Halak (Montreal on Feb. 18), former Trenton goaltender Martin Houle (Philadelphia on Dec. 13), former Alaska left wing D.J. King (St. Louis on Oct. 5), former Wheeling defenseman David Koci (Chicago on Mar. 10), former Texas center Kamil Kreps (Florida on Jan. 7), former Florida center Drew Larman (Florida on Nov. 13), former Florida defenseman Martin Lojek (Florida on Feb. 3), former Toledo goaltender Joey MacDonald (Detroit on Oct. 19), former Pensacola center Kris Newbury (Toronto on Dec. 23), former South Carolina and Reading center Rich Peverley (Nashville on Mar. 4), former Augusta right wing Pierre Parenteau (Chicago on Feb. 7), former Columbia right wing Jesse Schultz (Vancouver on Nov. 28), former ECHL All-Star goaltender Mike Smith (Dallas on Oct. 21), former Reading left wing Shay Stephenson (Los Angeles on Mar. 1), former Augusta goaltender Mike Wall (Anaheim on Nov. 26) and former Stockton defenseman Bryan Young (Edmonton on Mar. 9).

In 2006-07 in the NHL there were two head coaches (Peter Laviolette and Jim Playfair), nine assistant coaches and 15 on-ice officials with ECHL experience.

The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.

The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.

In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.

In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.

Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.