Dear ECHL Fans,
I am pleased to officially welcome you as the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League celebrates its 25th Anniversary season, making it the third-longest tenured professional league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
As we enter our 25th season, I would like to recognize and thank League founders and ECHL Hall of Fame members Henry Brabham, Bill Coffey and Pat Kelly for their work in laying the foundation of the ECHL a quarter century ago.
There has been a great deal of transition and change in the minor league hockey landscape over the past several seasons. As the economy continues to gradually recover and grow, the ECHL is well positioned to provide outstanding entertainment value for our fan base.
In addition to providing affordable family entertainment to more than 84 million fans since it began, ECHL teams have become an important part of their communities by donating more than $23 million and countless hours to charity the last six years.
The ECHL has become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process as 490 players have gone on to play in the NHL after the ECHL including 23 in 2011-12. In addition to these players, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL. For the 2012-13 season, 11 of the 30 AHL head coaches and almost one quarter of the head coaches in the NHL have ECHL ties.
Since it began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the league has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 23 teams in 16 states in 2012-13. This season, we welcome our newest members, the Evansville IceMen, Fort Wayne Komets, Orlando Solar Bears and San Francisco Bulls.
We congratulate the Florida Everblades on winning their first Kelly Cup championship, winning the clinching game in overtime in front of standing-room only crowd at Germain Arena.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 12 Stanley Cup champions including in 2012 with Los Angeles assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Conn Smythe Award winner Jonathan Quick, manager of communications/broadcasting Jeremy Zager and scouts Steve Greeley, Mark Mullen and Mark Yannetti. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2011-12, marking the 15th consecutive year for affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. For the 23rd season in a row, the ECHL was represented on the AHL champion with nine players on the Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals.
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 25th season of ECHL hockey.