Toledo’s Vitucci Receives John Brophy Award

PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced on Thursday that Nick Vitucci of the Toledo Storm is 2004-05 recipient of the John Brophy Award, presented annually to the Coach of the Year as voted by league coaches. Vitucci played for Brophy in 1992-93 with Hampton Roads in the ECHL.

Marty Raymond of Bakersfield finished second in the voting while Malcolm Cameron of Long Beach finished third and Scott White of Columbia finished fourth.

Vitucci becomes the second Toledo coach to win the award, joining Claude Noel in 2002-03. Noel is in his second season as head coach of Milwaukee of the American Hockey League, having led the Admirals to the Calder Cup title and being named Coach of the Year in his rookie season in 2003-04. Noel became the fourth ECHL coach in a row and the fifth in six years to be named the outstanding coach in the AHL, but the first to win the coach of the year award in both the ECHL and the AHL.

In Vitucci’s first full season behind the bench, Toledo finished 41-26-5 and returns to the postseason for the 11th time in 14 seasons, having won the ECHL title in 1993 and 1994. Vitucci was named head coach and director of player personnel on May 13, 2004. He was 14-27-8 in the final 49 regular season games in 2003-04 after being named interim head coach on December 20, 2003.

Vitucci, who played for Toledo from 1993-95, has won five ECHL championships – four as a player (1989, 1990, 1994 and 1996) and one as an assistant coach (2002) – which is more than any other individual in league history.

The 37-year-old Vitucci holds the ECHL career goaltender records for games (479), minutes (27,291), wins (265), 20-win seasons (7) and consecutive 30-win seasons (2) while he is tied for the career lead in 30-win seasons (2) and consecutive 20-win seasons (4).

Named to the ECHL 15th Anniversary Team in 2003, Vitucci holds the ECHL postseason goaltender records for games (80), minutes (4,841) and wins (43) while ranking third among all players in games (80). He was named First-Team All-ECHL in 1991-92 and 1997-98 and was named Goaltender of the Year in 1997-98. He was named Most Valuable Player in both the 1989 and the 1996 Riley Cup Playoffs.

The John Brophy Award is named in honor of John Brophy, coached more seasons than any other coach in ECHL history with Hampton Roads from 1989-2000 and Wheeling from 2001-03, compiling a career record of 480-323-79 in the regular season and 55-39 in the postseason. Hampton Roads reached the postseason in each of his 11 seasons behind the bench, winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 and an ECHL record third title in 1998. His three ECHL titles are the most in league history and he is also the all-time leader among ECHL coaches in regular season games (878) and regular season wins (480) and postseason games (94) and wins (55). Brophy ranks second all-time in professional hockey to only the legendary Scotty Bowman. After a 20-year playing career with several different minor league teams, Brophy began his coaching career with the Long Island Cougars (NAHL) in 1973-74. The following season he moved to Hampton Roads to coach the Hampton Gulls (SHL). He guided the Gulls from 1974-77 and in 1977-78 he was behind the bench when the Gulls moved to the American Hockey League. When the Gulls ceased operations, Brophy moved to the Birmingham Bulls where he garnered WHA Coach of the Year honors. Brophy led the Montreal Canadiens affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs from 1981-84. Brophy served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1984-85 and was named head coach of the Maple Leafs minor league club, the St. Catherines Saints the next season. The next year, Brophy took over as head coach of the Maple Leafs until 1988-89.

ECHL John Brophy Award Winners
2004-05 Nick Vitucci, Toledo Storm
2003-04 Pat Bingham, Wheeling Nailers
2002-03 Claude Noel, Toledo Storm
2001-02 Dave Farrish, Louisiana IceGators
2000-01 Troy Ward, Trenton Titans
1999-00 Bob Ferguson, Florida Everblades
1998-99 Bob Ferguson, Florida Everblades
1997-98 Chris Nilan, Chesapeake IceBreakers
1996-97 Brian McCutcheon, Columbus Chill
1995-96 Roy Sommer, Richmond Renegades
1994-95 Jim Playfair, Dayton Bombers
1993-94 Barry Smith, Knoxville Cherokees
1992-93 Kurt Kleinendorst, Raleigh IceCaps
1991-92 Doug Sauter, Winston-Salem Thunderbirds
1990-91 Don Jackson, Knoxville Cherokees
1989-90 Dave Allison, Virginia Lancers
1988-89 Ron Hansis, Erie Panthers