The ECHL has become the place to go for officials who are looking to get promoted to the AHL or NHL.
The NHL currently has 21 officials on its staff that worked in the ECHL, including five of the six current minor league referees that were under contract for the 2010-11 season. Just this past spring Dan O’Rourke, a former ECHL player and official, worked his first Stanley Cup Final.
Since 2007, the ECHL has had an official hired by the NHL each year.
The AHL officiating staff for this past season had 17 full-time referees, 14 of those came through the ECHL. Additionally, 24 of the 38 referees that were on staff for 2010- 11 had ECHL experience, including 11 that worked in the ECHL this past year.
Of the 121 linesmen listed on the AHL staff for this past season, 46 of them have ECHL experience, including 11 current ECHL linesmen.
Referees on this past year’s ECHL staff worked a total of 170 AHL regular season games and full-time linesman accounted for over 100 games worked.
Five of the six referees and all six linesmen who worked the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals have an ECHL background.
“We have gone out and recruited the best possible officials over the past few years,” said ECHL Director of Officiating Joe Ernst. “The sacrifices that some of these officials have made to pursue their goal speaks to the character and drive that these officials have. We have also put an emphasis on supervision and teaching and our supervisory staff deserves a lot of credit as well for their efforts in helping to develop these officials. Our supervisors or the NHL were present at 292 of our 747 games played this past season, which includes the playoffs. This amounts to almost 40% of our games which is almost unheard of in the minor leagues.”