PRINCETON, N.J. – When the 2003-04 National Hockey League season opens on Wednesday there will be nine former ECHL coaches behind the bench for NHL teams.
Bruce Cassidy, who coached Jacksonville from 1996-98 and Trenton in 1999-2000, is in his second season as head coach of Washington, having led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 39-29-8-6 record as a rookie head coach in 2002-03. Cassidy became the third former ECHL coach to become an NHL head coach, joining Peter Laviolette, who coached Wheeling of the ECHL in 1997-98 and the New York Islanders of the NHL in 2001-03, and Dave Allison, who coached Richmond in the ECHL from 1990-92 and Ottawa of the NHL for 25 games in 1995-96.
Brian McCutcheon, who was ECHL Coach of the Year with Columbus (Ohio) in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Buffalo Sabres. Wayne Cashman, who coached Pensacola in 1999-2000, is an assistant coach with Boston and Charlie Huddy, who coached Huntington in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Edmonton. Barry Smith, who was an assistant coach with Erie from 1992-95 and head coach for Erie in 1995-96 and an assistant coach with Baton Rouge in 1997-98 and 1999-2000, is an assistant coach with Vancouver.
Don Jackson, who led Knoxville to the Brabham Cup as the ECHL regular season champion in 1990-91, is an assistant coach with Ottawa while Jim Playfair, who coached Dayton and was ECHL Coach of the Year in 1994-95, is an assistant with Calgary. John Torchetti, who played for Carolina in 1988-89 and Winston-Salem in 1989-91 and was an assistant coach with the Greensboro Monarchs from 1993-95, is an assistant coach with Florida while Peter Horachek, who coached Louisville in 1990-91 and Trenton in 2001-02, is an assistant coach with Nashville.
Jamie Kompon, who played for Hampton Roads in 1989-90 and Cincinnati and Winston-Salem in 1990-91, is the strength coach for St. Louis.
ECHL teams have affiliations with 21 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2003-04. The ECHL surpassed a milestone in 2002-03 as the 200th former ECHL player advanced to the National Hockey League. In 2002-03, twenty former ECHL players made their first-ever NHL appearances and 90 former ECHL alums played in the NHL.