The ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Princeton, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and Canada, generally regarded as a tier below the American Hockey League.
The ECHL, along with the AHL, are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association, meaning any player signed to an entry-level NHL contract and designated for assignment must report to a club either in the AHL or the ECHL. Additionally, the league's players are represented by the Professional Hockey Players' Association in negotiations with the ECHL itself.
The league, which combined teams from the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League and All-American Hockey League, began play as the East Coast Hockey League in 1988 with 5 teams, the (Winston-Salem, North) Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers), the Erie Panthers (now the Victoria Salmon Kings), the Johnstown Chiefs (now the Greenville Road Warriors), the Knoxville Cherokees (the franchise ceased operations after 2005), and the Virginia Lancers (now the Utah Grizzlies).
Since that time, the ECHL has met with a mixture of failures and successes, reaching its largest size in 2003 of 31 teams before being reduced to 28 teams for the 2004 season. In September 2002, the West Coast Hockey League ceased operations, and the ECHL Board of Governors approved membership applications from the Anchorage (now Alaska) Aces, the Bakersfield Condors, the Fresno Falcons, the Idaho Steelheads, the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Long Beach Ice Dogs and the San Diego Gulls as well as from teams in Ontario, California and Reno, Nevada. Alaska, Bakersfield, Fresno, Idaho, Las Vegas, Long Beach and San Diego began play in the 2003–04 season as expansion teams.
The teams from the defunct lower-level WCHL, along with Las Vegas, joined as expansion teams for the ECHL’s 16th season in 2003–04. In a change reflective of the nationwide presence of the ECHL, the East Coast Hockey League changed its name to simply ECHL on May 19, 2003.
The league, because of geographical anomalies, has used unbalanced conferences and divisions, making for some extremely varied playoff formats and limited interconference play. Due to travel costs, the league has attempted to placate owners in keeping those costs down, which has led to the sometimes-odd playoff structures.
The ECHL has attempted to be more tech-friendly to its fans. Some improvements on the league's website have included a new schedule and statistics engine powered by League Stat, Inc. (introduced in 2006), internet radio coverage for most teams, and pay-per view broadcasting of ECHL games through B2 Networks (a subsidiary of America One Broadcasting). In 2008, the league introduced the ECHL toolbar for internet browsers which gave users short cut access to statistics, scores, transactions, and news updates.
At the annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 in Henderson, Nevada, the Board of Governors approved changes to the names of the conferences and divisions. The former American Conference (comprising eleven East Coast and Midwest teams) was renamed the Eastern Conference, while the National Conference (consisting of 8 West Coast teams, including the league's only Canadian team at the time), was re-designated the Western Conference. Within the Eastern Conference, the East Division was renamed the Atlantic Division, and the Western Conference's former West Division was dubbed the Mountain Division.
2010 Kelly Cup playoff formatEdit
In the National Conference, seven teams qualify: two division winners and the next five teams in the conference. The division winner with the best record (most points) receives a bye to the conference semifinal round while the other division winner is seeded second and plays the seventh ranked team in a best of five series. The third seed plays against the sixth while the fourth plays the fifth seed in a best of five series. The top seed plays the winner of the winner of the fourth/fifth series and the other two winners face each other in a best of seven series.
In the American Conference, eight teams qualify: the three division winners plus the next five teams in the conference. Similar to the NHL the division winners will be the top three seeds; the conference winner vs the eighth seed, second vs seventh, third vs sixth and fourth vs fifth in the best of five conference semifinal. The winner of the 1st/8th series will play the winner of the 4th/5th series while 2nd/7th winner plays against the 3rd/6th winner in a best of seven conference semifinal series.
Future teams Edit
One team which was under suspension should resume operations in a new home arena for the 2011–12 season. Teams are being developed in four new markets, and considered in several markets that have hosted ECHL teams in the past.
- Columbia Inferno, 2011–12; granted a one-year voluntary suspension while the team attempts to find a new home arena, then granted a one-year extension onto their voluntary suspension as they attempt to construct a new arena to host the franchise.
- Chicago Express, 2011–12; the Daily Herald has reported that an ECHL franchise will play at the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.
- Reno, Nevada, start date unknown; no announcement of arena construction has been made.
- Thunder Bay, Ontario, Lead by Ice Edge, Would be the Second Canadian team in the ECHL, start date unknown; no announcement of arena construction has been made.
- St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, The Telegram has reported that several businessmen may have a team in the city by September 2011.
In an article in the spring of 2009, Commissioner Brian McKenna said, "We have an interest in returning to several markets. Richmond has had a team in the Southern Professional (Hockey) League for several years, but it's a market that's of interest. Other markets like Greensboro and Greenville, we're having discussions as we speak about the possibility of going back into some of those places. But history dictates that when we do it properly, we have a very high-percentage chance of succeeding for the longer term...We’d still like to add a team in the Pacific Northwest at some point. Other markets like San Diego, Reno, Fresno...we still have interest. But again, we have to make sure that it’s done properly."
Defunct and relocated teams Edit
While the ECHL has stated in recent years they would not grant voluntary suspensions of franchises for more than one year, both the Toledo Storm (now the Toledo Walleye) and Mississippi Sea Wolves (now defunct) were granted two-year suspensions—the Sea Wolves because of Hurricane Katrina and the Storm in order to demolish their present arena and construct a new one in downtown Toledo. The Mississippi Sea Wolves resumed play for the 2007–2008 season, while the Toledo Walleye resumed play in their new arena for the 2009–2010 season.
On March 30, 2009, the Dayton Bombers and Mississippi Sea Wolves announced that they would suspend operations for the 2009–10 season, while the Phoenix RoadRunners announced that they will cease operations at the end of the 2008–09 season. Dayton would receive a franchise in the International Hockey League and Biloxi, MS would receive a team in the Southern Professional Hockey League the following year.
On February 15, 2010, the Tribune-Democrat reported that the Johnstown Chiefs, the only remaining founding franchise of the East Coast Hockey League to remain in its original city, would be relocating to Greenville, South Carolina, the former home of the Greenville Grrrowl (1998–2006) following the completion of the 2009-10 season.
Four former ECHL franchises have been directly replaced in their respective markets by American Hockey League franchises. The Greensboro Monarchs were the first, being replaced by the Carolina Monarchs in 1995. The Hampton Roads Admirals were the second, giving way to the Norfolk Admirals in 2000. The Peoria Rivermen were the third. In their case, the replacement franchise retained the Worcester IceCats history but assumed the Rivermen identity for their first AHL season of 2005-06. The Charlotte Checkers were the fourth, yielding to a franchise that retained the Albany River Rats history following the club's move to Charlotte following the 2009-10 season and assumed the Checkers identity. In each case, the ECHL franchise was relinquished to the league by its respective ownership group.
ECHL Hall of Fame Edit
In celebration of the league's 20th year of play, the ECHL Board of Governors created the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2008, to recognize the achievements of players, coaches, and personnel who dedicated their careers to the league. Hall of Fame members are selected in four categories: Player, Developmental Player, Builder, and Referee/Linesman. Players must have concluded their career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons, though not continuous or full seasons. Development Players must have begun their career in the ECHL and went on to a distinguished career in the NHL, playing a minimum of 260 regular season games in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. Builders may be active or inactive whereas Referee/Linesman must have concluded their active officiating career for a minimum of three playing seasons.
No more than five candidates are elected to the Hall of Fame each year with no more than three Players, one Developmental Player, two Builders and one Referee/Linesman. The Builder and the Referee/Linesman categories are dependent upon the number of candidates in the Player category.
The nomination and subsequent selection of candidates is determined by the ECHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee which is appointed by the ECHL.
The ECHL Hall of Fame Inaugural Class was inducted during the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game festivities at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California and included ECHL founder Henry Brabham, the ECHL's first commissioner Patrick J. Kelly, and former players Nick Vitucci and Chris Valicevic.
List of Hall of Famers Edit
|2008||Henry Brabham||ECHL founder|
|Patrick J. Kelly||Commissioner (1988–96)|
|2009||John Brophy||Head coach|
|Blake Cullen||Owner (Hampton Roads Admirals)|
|Rod Taylor||Left winger|
|2010||Cam Brown||Left winger|
|E.A. "Bud" Gingher||Board of Governors Chairman (1992–95) Owner (Dayton Bombers)|
|2011||Phil Berger||Right winger|
|Richard Adams||President/CEO (1995–02)|
|Luke Curtin||Left winger|
See also Edit
- Kelly Cup
- ECHL All-Star Game
- List of ECHL seasons
- List of developmental and minor sports leagues
- List of ice hockey leagues
- Sports league attendances
- ↑ "Collective Bargaining Agreement between National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association". NHL and NHLPA. July 22, 2005. http://www.nhl.com/cba/2005-CBA.pdf. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- ↑ Press Release (July 14, 2008). "ECHL Toolbar Available Now". ECHL. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080719145632/http://www.echl.com/cgi-bin/mpublic.cgi?action=show_news&cat=1&id=15674. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
- ↑ Press Release (June 21, 2010). "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting Concludes". ECHL. http://echl.com/annual-echl-board-of-governors-meeting-concludes-p166135. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ↑ Press Release (June 29, 2009). "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting Concludes". ECHL. http://echl.com/annual-echl-board-of-governors-meeting-concludes-p163029. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- ↑ Press release (February 17, 2010). "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting". ECHL. http://echl.com/echl-concludes-mid-season-br-board-of-governors-meeting-p165278. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- ↑ Selvam, Ashok (June 19, 2010). "Sears Centre to house new hockey team". Daily Herald. http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=388932. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- ↑ Lawless, Gary (August 27, 2010). "Ice Edge plans to bring ECHL hockey team to Thunder Bay". Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/sports/breakingnews/Ice-Edge-plans-to-bring-ECHL-hockey-team-to-Thunder-Bay-101655183.html. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- ↑ >Short, Robin (January 12, 2011). "Hockey ahead? Local group looks to bring ECHL team to Mile One". The Telegram. http://www.thetelegram.com/Sports/Hockey/1969-12-31/article-2110115/Hockey-ahead/1. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- ↑ Compton, Brian (April 3, 2009). "ECHL in 'good shape' now, says McKenna". NHL.com. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=416511. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- ↑ Press Release (March 30, 2009). "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting". ECHL. http://echl.com/echl-concludes-mid-season-br-board-of-governors-meeting-p162338. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
- ↑ Mastovich, Mike (February 15, 2010). "Chiefs plan to move franchise to South Carolina". Tribune-Democrat. http://www.tribdem.com/local/local_story_045202110.html. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- ↑ Scott, David (February 11, 2010). "Checkers moving up in world". Charlotte Observer. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/checkers/story/1238524.html. Retrieved February 11, 2010.