PRINCETON, N.J. – Former ECHL head coach Claude Noel has been named head coach of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets.
Noel began his coaching career in the ECHL with Roanoke Valley in 1990-91 before spending the next two seasons with Dayton. In 1993-94, Noel moved on to Kalamazoo of the International Hockey League and spent four seasons as an assistant and head coach with the K-Wings before moving on to Milwaukee where he was an assistant coach from 1998-2002.
A native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Noel returned to the ECHL with Toledo in 2002-03, leading the Storm to a record of 47-15-10 as he was awarded the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year.
From 2003-07, Noel was head coach of Milwaukee in the American Hockey League, leading the Admirals to the 2004 Calder Cup championship.
Noel joined the staff of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007, and was elevated to head coach for the final 24 games of the 2009-10 season leading the club to a 10-8-6 record. Last season, he was head coach of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
Noel becomes the seventh head coach in the National Hockey League to have ECHL ties. Bruce Boudreau, who led Mississippi to the 1999 Kelly Cup championship is head coach of the Washington Capitals; former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2011 winner of the Jack Adams Award as the NHL Coach of the Year; former ECHL coach and executive Jack Capuano is head coach of the New York Islanders; former Las Vegas head coach and 2006 ECHL Coach of the Year Glen Gulutzan is head coach of the Dallas Stars; former Wheeling head coach Peter Laviolette is head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers; and former ECHL player and coach Davis Payne, who was ECHL Coach of the Year in 2007 and led Alaska to the 2006 Kelly Cup title, is head coach of the St. Louis Blues.
During the 2010-11 season there were 30 coaches with ECHL ties working behind the benches of NHL teams.
There have been 467 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL. Twenty-three ECHL players made their NHL debut in 2010-11: former Idaho Steelheads goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Richard Bachman (Dallas on Dec. 11), former Minnesota Wild defenseman Drew Bagnall (Minnesota on April 8), former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell (St. Louis on Dec. 15), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Mark Dekanich (Nashville on Dec. 18), former South Carolina Stingrays left wing Stefan Della Rovere (St. Louis on Dec. 1), former Phoenix RoadRunners center Andrew Desjardins (San Jose on Jan. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender and 2007 ECHL All-Star Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati on Dec. 30), former Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Brian Fahey (Washington on Oct. 16), former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Braden Holtby (Washington on Nov. 7), former Charlotte Checkers right wing Hugh Jessiman (Florida on Feb. 27), former Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Utah Grizzlies goaltender Mikko Koskinen (New York Islanders on Feb. 8), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Utah Grizzlies goaltender Nathan Lawson (New York Islanders on Dec. 18), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum (Detroit on March 30), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays center and two-time ECHL All-Star Travis Morin (Dallas on Jan. 26), former Johnstown Chiefs and Cincinnati Cyclones forward Chris Mueller (Nashville on Dec. 28), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Timo Pielmeier (Anaheim on Feb. 19), former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11), former Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player James Reimer (Tortonto on Dec. 20) and former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Yann Sauve (Vancouver on Feb. 15).
The ECHL has had 275 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 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years.
There have been 211 ECHL players that have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of more than 35 per year.
The ECHL had a record 79 players on NHL opening-day rosters in 2010-11, surpassing the 78 from 2009-10 and marking the eighth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team in 2010-11 and the league has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 14th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
Twenty former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Jean 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.
The ECHL was represented for the 11th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion with Boston Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas, radio broadcaster Dave Goucher and scout Tom McVie. Thomas is the first former ECHL player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There were 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the sixh year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the eighth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL 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, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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.