Thomas, Fernandez Have
NHL’s Lowest Goals-Against Average

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced that former ECHL and current Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and teammate Manny Fernandez earned the William Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders for the club finishing the season having surrendered the fewest goals.

The Bruins allowed 196 goals while Minnesota finished second with 200. It is the first Jennings trophy for Thomas, who appeared in 54 games for Boston, and the second for Fernandez, who teamed with Niklas Backstrom to win the award for Minnesota in 2006-07.

In his first professional season in 1997-98, Thomas was 4-1-1 with a goals-against average of 2.18 and a save percentage of .944 in six regular season games for Birmingham while also playing one game in the International Hockey League with Houston. He also played in Finland where he was 13-4-1 with two shutouts, a goals against of 1.62 and a save percentage of .947 in 18 regular season games for Helsinki.

There were 43 former players and 14 former coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the fourth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the sixth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.

The ECHL has been represented on the last eight NHL champions and there are 14 former players who have their name engraved on the Stanley Cup: Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008), Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007), Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (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 former ECHL player to have his name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.

There have been 407 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 52 in 2008-09. Fourteen former ECHL players signed contracts totaling more than $60 million last summer while Alexandre Burrows, who played in the ECHL his first three seasons, signed a four-year extension with Vancouver reportedly worth $8 million.

The ECHL has had 215 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 96 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 151 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last four seasons for an average of more than 37 per year.

There were eight players who played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2008-09 with goaltenders Matt Climie (Idaho and Dallas), Riku Helenius (Elmira, Mississippi and Tampa Bay), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina and Washington) and Marek Schwarz (Alaska and St. Louis), defensemen Wes O’Neill (Johnstown and Colorado), Raymond Macias (Johnstown and Colorado) and Kevin Quick (Augusta, Elmira and Tampa Bay) and right wing Joel Rechlicz (Utah and New York Islanders).

The ECHL was represented in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game by Mark Streit of the New York Islanders and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins while former ECHL players Dan Ellis, Jonathan Quick and Tomas Vokoun have all been selected as recipients of the NHL’s “Three Stars” award this season.

The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean Sebastien Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 and the 300th was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on Apr. 11, 2006.

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. Seventy-two former ECHL players were on NHL opening-day rosters this season and 333 ECHL players attended 2008 NHL training camps, including 139 who played in the league in 2007-08.

Former ECHL coaches who are head coaches in the NHL are Gordon and Boudreau while Bylsma is the interim head coach for Pittsburgh. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons and won the Kelly Cup in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. Peter Laviolette, who began his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, led Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. There were 18 assistant coaches in the NHL in 2008-09 who were players or coaches in the ECHL.

Record 52 former ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Idaho Steelheads right wing Jay Beagle (Washington on Feb. 11), former Wheeling Nailers and ECHL All-Star defenseman Paul Bissonnette (Pittsburgh on Oct. 4), former Stockton Thunder and ECHL All-Star right wing Troy Bodie (Anaheim on Jan. 16), former Bakersfield Condors center Alexandre Bolduc (Vancouver on Nov. 27), former Florida Everblades defenseman Brett Carson (Carolina on Dec. 7), former Idaho Steelheads goaltender Matt Climie (Dallas on Apr.4), former South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Sean Collins (Washington on Dec. 6), former Las Vegas Wranglers and Wheeling Nailers goaltender John Curry (Pittsburgh on Nov. 26), former Greenville Grrrowl goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (Edmonton on Oct. 17), former Johnstown Chiefs center Andre Deveaux (Toronto on Nov. 27), former Dayton Bombers center Philippe Dupuis (Colorado on Dec. 12), former Gwinnett Gladiators left wing Chris Durno (Colorado on Jan. 18), former Gwinnett Gladiators right wing Pat Dwyer (Carolina on Nov. 2), former South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jamie Fraser (New York Islanders on Apr. 4), former Columbus Cottonmouths and Tallahassee Tiger Sharks left wing Mitch Fritz (New York Islanders on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays right wing Andrew Gordon (Washington on Dec. 23), former Augusta Lynx and Mississippi Sea Wolves goaltender Riku Helenius (Tampa Bay on Jan. 30), former Charlotte Checkers center Dwight Helminen (Carolina on Oct. 28), former Florida Everblades and ECHL All-Star center Matt Hendricks (Colorado on Mar. 10), former Las Vegas Wranglers goaltender Brent Krahn (Dallas on Feb. 14), former Trenton Devils right wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Baton Rouge Kingfish left wing Per Ledin (Colorado on Apr. 9), former Gwinnett Gladiators defenseman Scott Lehman (Atlanta on Dec. 18), former Johnstown Chiefs defenseman Raymond Macias (Colorado on Apr. 1), former Utah Grizzlies defenseman Andrew MacDonald (New York Islanders on Feb. 28), former Charlotte Checkers defenseman Steve MacIntyre (Edmonton on Oct. 15), former Florida Everblades left wing Kenndal McArdle (Florida on Dec. 2), two-time All-Star and former Las Vegas Wranglers goaltender Mike McKenna (Tampa Bay on Feb. 3), former All-Star and Wheeling Nailers center Kurtis McLean (New York Islanders on Jan. 19), former Charlotte Checkers goaltender Al Montoya (Phoenix on Apr. 1), former South Carolina Stingrays and ECHL All-Star goaltender Michal Neuvirth (Washington on Feb. 14), former Johnstown Chiefs defenseman Wes O’Neill (Toronto on Mar. 9), former Columbia Inferno defenseman Phil Oreskovic (Toronto on Mar. 9), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Wheeling Nailers center Cam Paddock (St. Louis on Nov. 14), former Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Adam Pardy (Calgary on Oct. 9), former Idaho Steelheads left wing Warren Peters (Calgary on Dec. 7), former Charlotte Checkers center Jakub Petruzalek (Carolina on Feb. 5), former Charlotte Checkers defenseman Corey Potter (New York Rangers on Dec. 7), former Augusta Lynx defenseman Kevin Quick (Tampa Bay on Jan. 13), former Utah Grizzlies right wing Joel Rechlicz (New York Islanders on Mar. 4), former Charlotte Checkers, Columbia Inferno and Elmira Jackals defenseman Bryan Rodney (Carolina on Dec. 11), former Gwinnett Gladiators center Jared Ross (Philadelphia on Oct. 11), former Alaska Aces goaltender Marek Schwarz (St. Louis on Oct. 25), former Greenville Grrrowl and Stockton Thunder center Tim Sestito (Edmonton on Nov. 26), former Augusta Lynx defenseman Brett Skinner (New York Islanders on Oct. 27), former Dayton Bombers and Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Tyler Sloan (Washington on Oct. 21), former Utah Grizzlies and ECHL All-Star center Trevor Smith (New York Islanders on Dec. 31), former Johnstown Chiefs and Mississippi Sea Wolves forward Radek Smolenak (Tampa Bay on Dec. 2), former Las Vegas Wranglers and ECHL All-Star defenseman Tyson Strachan (St. Louis on Dec. 18), former Phoenix RoadRunners goaltender Josh Tordjman (Phoenix on Mar. 8), former Wheeling Nailers right wing Tim Wallace (Pittsburgh on Dec. 10) and former Idaho Steelheads center Tom Wandell (Dallas on Dec. 10).

There are 18 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2008-09 with referees David Banfield, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak and Jay Sharrers. Barton, Joannette, Leggo, McCauley, Nowak, Pollock, Rooney and Sharrers all worked the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.

Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch Games Live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
• Watch ECHL Games Around The Clock On ECHL TV on B2CableTV.com.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 21 teams playing in 16 states and British Columbia in 2008-09.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 23 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 19 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• In the last six 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.