Dear ECHL Fans,
I am pleased to officially welcome you to the 30th season of ECHL hockey. We are very proud of the history and heritage that has developed over the past 29 years. Our 30th Anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past but also celebrate the future. We have many events planned for this year-long celebration.
During the 2016-17 season, the ECHL welcomed over 4.1 million fans, and surpassed the 4,000 mark in average attendance for the 12th consecutive season and the 25th time in the last 27 years.
Once again, our Teams made an impact in their local communities as well, donating over $3.8 million to charitable and non-profit organizations during the 2016-17 season, bringing the total amount donated in the last six years to more than $23 million.
In addition to providing affordable family entertainment to more than 99 million fans since it began, ECHL teams have become an important part of their communities by donating more than $45 million and countless hours to charity over the past decade.
We congratulate the Colorado Eagles, who captured their first Kelly Cup championship in 2017, defeating the South Carolina Stingrays in four games in the Kelly Cup Finals.
The ECHL has become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process as 624 players have gone on to play in the NHL after the ECHL including 24 who made their NHL debut in 2016-17. In addition to these players, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL. For the 2017-18 season, 12 of the 30 AHL head coaches and over 30 coaches on NHL staffs have ECHL ties. Approximately one-third of the current on-ice officials in the NHL spent time developing their skills in the ECHL.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 17 Stanley Cup champions including in 2017 with Pittsburgh Penguins’ players Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Mark Streit, Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley, Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos, Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey, Amateur Scouts Ryan Bowness and Warren Young, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze. The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 31 teams in the NHL in 2017-18, marking the 21st consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. For the 28th season in a row, the ECHL was represented on the AHL Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins.
Thank you on behalf of the ECHL and its teams for your continued support and we hope that you and your family enjoy following your favorite team through what promises to be a fantastic 30th season of ECHL hockey.