PRINCETON, N.J. – Pierre Parenteau made his National Hockey League debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday becoming the 319th player to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL.
After suffering an injury during training camp with Anaheim in 2005, the 23-year-old was assigned to Augusta, the ECHL affiliate of the Ducks. He had an assist in two games with the Lynx before being reassigned to Portland of the American Hockey League where he had 49 points (22g-27a) in 56 regular season games and 22 points (5g-17a) in 19 playoff games.
Parenteau is the fourth former ECHL player in the last five days to play his first NHL game, joining former Mississippi defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who played for Nashville on Tuesday, former Wheeling defenseman Drew Fata, who played for the New York Islanders on Sunday and former Florida Everblades defenseman Martin Lojek, who played for the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
There have been 16 ECHL players who have played their first NHL game this season: Krys Barch (Dallas on Jan. 15), Sheldon Brookbank (Nashville on Feb. 6), Barry Brust (Los Angeles on Nov. 30), Drew Fata (New York Islanders on Feb. 4), Yutaka Fukufuji (Los Angeles on Jan. 13), Daniel Girardi (New York Rangers on Jan. 27), Martin Houle (Philadelphia on Dec. 13), D.J. King (St. Louis on Oct. 5), Drew Larman (Florida on Nov. 13), Martin Lojek (Florida on Feb. 3), Joey MacDonald (Detroit on Oct. 19), Kris Newbury (Toronto on Dec. 23), Pierre Parenteau (Chicago on Feb. 7), Jesse Schultz (Vancouver on Nov. 28), former ECHL All-Star goaltender Mike Smith (Dallas on Oct. 21), and Mike Wall (Anaheim on Nov. 26).
Selected in the ninth round (264th overall) by Anaheim in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Parenteau was acquired along with Bruno St. Jacques by Chicago from Anaheim on Dec. 28, 2006 in exchange for Matt Keith, Sebastien Caron and Chris Durno. Parenteau has 15 points (4g-11a) in 16 games with Norfolk of the AHL after opening the season with Portland where he had 28 points (15g-13a) and 35 penalty minutes in 28 games.
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.
Since 2000-01 there have been 174 players who have played in the NHL after the ECHL including a record 47 who made their NHL debut in 2005-06. There have been 95 former ECHL players who have played in the NHL this season and in 2005-06 there were 112 former ECHL players who played in the NHL, including five goaltenders who played a game in both the ECHL and 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.
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. The ECHL has had more players called up to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined each of the past four seasons with 1,646 call ups involving almost 1,000 players.
The ECHL raised its average attendance for the third straight year in 2005-06 drawing 3,934,794 for 900 games which is an average of 4,372 per game, an increase of more than nine percent from 2004-05 and the largest per-game average since 1999-2000. Six teams surpassed 200,000 and nine teams averaged 5,000 per game for the first time since 1999-2000 as the league welcomed 40 sellout crowds and 13 of the 22 returning teams raised their average attendance from a year ago.
In 2005-06 the ECHL and its member teams contributed more than $2.3 million for charity and relief funds, including those benefiting victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while also making thousands of appearances by players, coaches, team personnel and mascots at schools, hospitals, libraries and charity functions.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.