When the National Hockey League season opens, there will be six former East Coast Hockey League coaches behind the bench for NHL teams.
Peter Laviolette and Bruce Cassidy are the second and third East Coast Hockey League coaches that have advanced to the National Hockey League. Laviolette, who is in his second season behind the bench with the New York Islanders, coached Wheeling in 1997-98. Cassidy, who is in his first season as head coach of the Washington Capitals, coached Jacksonville from 1996-98 and Trenton in 1999-2000. Dave Allison, who coached Richmond from 1990-92, became the first ECHL coach in the NHL when he coached Ottawa for 25 games in 1995-96.
Brian McCutcheon, who was named ECHL Coach of the Year with Columbus (Ohio) in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Buffalo while 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 coached Erie in 1995-96, is an assistant coach with Vancouver.
There have been 192 former ECHL players that have advanced to the National Hockey League along with coaches, on-ice officials and front office personnel. In 2001-02 there were 85 ECHL alumni that played in the NHL, including 18 that made their NHL debut. A total of 24 teams in the NHL will develop players with ECHL affiliates in 2002-03.