Devils Bench Boss Named ECHL Coach of the Year
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced on Monday that Rick Kowalsky of the Trenton Devils is the 2008-09 recipient of the John Brophy Award.
The John Brophy Award is the trophy presented annually to the ECHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success as selected in a vote of league coaches. The trophy is named for John Brophy, who won a record three ECHL titles with Hampton Roads in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.
Karl Taylor of the Ontario Reign finished second in the voting followed by Jared Bednar of the South Carolina Stingrays, Keith McCambridge of the Alaska Aces and Derek Laxdal of the Idaho Steelheads.
The winner of the Defenseman of the Year award will be announced on Tuesday.
Kowalsky led the Devils to a 28-11-4 record since Jan. 1 when they were 12-14-3 and in sixth place in the North Division on Jan. 1. Trenton finished second in the North Division at 40-25-7 and 87 points to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the eighth time in 10 seasons. The 40 wins are the most since 2004-05 when Trenton won the Kelly Cup with Kowalsky as team captain and are the fourth most in team history.
In his third season behind the Devils bench, Kowalsky is 105-92-19 in the regular season and 2-3 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The 37 year old returned to the capital city in 2006-07 after spending one season with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League as an assistant coach for former Trenton head coach and current Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland. The Admirals finished 43-29-4-4 and set a team record with 94 points while tying the team record for wins.
Kowalsky was named to the ECHL All-Star Game in 1995 and again in 2003 when he was captain for the North team. Selected in the 10th round (227th overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1992 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Kowalsky played in 779 games in the regular season and postseason recording 711 points (293g-418a) and 1,374 penalty minutes with Cornwall, Norfolk and Portland of the AHL and Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Trenton of the ECHL from 1993-2005. He helped lead Sault Ste. Marie to back-to-back Ontario Hockey League Championships in 1991 and 1992 before captaining the Greyhounds to the Memorial Cup championship in 1993.
John Brophy Award Winners (ECHL Coach of the Year)
2008-09 Rick Kowalsky, Trenton Devils
2007-08 Chuck Weber, Cincinnati Cyclones
2006-07 Davis Payne, Alaska Aces
2005-06 Glen Gulutzan, Las Vegas Wranglers
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
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Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
* 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 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.
* Affiliations with 24 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League marking 12th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
* 406 former ECHL players have played in NHL.
* 150 have played their first NHL game in the last four seasons.
* Record 51 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 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).
* Eight players have played in the ECHL and the NHL in 2008-09: goaltenders Matt Climie (Idaho and Dallas), Riku Helenius (Mississippi and Tampa Bay), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina and Washington) and Marek Schwarz (Alaska and St. Louis), defensemen Raymond Macias (Johnstown and Colorado), Wes O’Neill and Kevin Quick (Augusta and Tampa Bay) and right wing Joel Rechlicz (Utah and New York Islanders).
* There were 72 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters.
* Twenty-six former ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2007-08 including six who played in both the ECHL and the NHL: Chris Beckford-Tseu (Alaska and St. Louis), Adam Berti (Pensacola and Chicago), Joe Jensen (Wheeling and Carolina), Dan LaCosta (Elmira and Columbus), Jonathan Quick (Reading and Los Angeles) and Danny Taylor (Reading and Los Angeles).
* Record 47 former ECHL players played their first NHL game in 2005-06.
* ECHL is represented for the eighth consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2008 by Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings.
* Former ECHL coaches working as head coaches in the NHL are Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Scott Gordon of the New York Islanders while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is the interim head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship 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 are 18 assistant coaches in the NHL who were players or coaches in the ECHL.
* 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.
* 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.