For the 12th straight season, ECHL alumni were part of the Stanley Cup winning organization. The Los Angeles Kings went on an extraordinary run, losing only four games while bringing the Cup home to California. One of the main reasons for the Kings success was the stellar play of goaltender Jonathan Quick, who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. Quick (26), spent 38 games with the ECHL’s Reading Royals during his first professional season back in 2007-2008, also cracking into the NHL the same season, making three appearances in the Kings net. With Reading, Quick posted a solid record of 23-11-3 while compiling a 2.79 goals against average and a .905 saves percentage. The Royals, now affiliated with Toronto and Boston, put another goaltender in the NHL this past season when Jussi Rynnas, who spent 14 games in Reading, made two appearances for the Maple Leafs. Quick was not the only member of the Stanley Cup champion Kings with ECHL experience. Dwight King spent 20 games with the Kings current ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign during the 2009-2010 season, and Jordan Nolan started his professional career with the Reign, playing in a pair of games toward the end of the 2009-2010 season.
Last season, Tim Thomas was the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Thomas spent 6
games between the pipes for the ECHL’s Birmingham Bulls back at the start of his professional career during the 1997-1998 season. Thomas also won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender during the 2008-2009 season, while also winning the William M. Jennings Trophy the same year. Rich Peverley, who spent 69 games with the South Carolina Stingrays during the 2004-2005 season and, 11 games with the Reading Royals in 2005-2006, was also a member of the Champion Bruins. Also winning the Cup with Boston was Michael Ryder who spent 20 games in the ECHL in 2001-2002 with the Mississippi Sea Wolves.
Overall, 19 players, including six in the past two seasons, have won the Stanley Cup after playing in the ECHL. Some of the others are Ruslan Fedetenko, Chad Larose, Francois Beaucheman, and George Parros.
The ECHL has also produced a lot of big name players who have not yet won the Stanley Cup. Paul Bissonnette, better known as @biznasty2point0 on twitter, played parts of three seasons from 2005 to 2008 for the Wheeling Nailers, who have sent more players to the NHL than any other ECHL franchise, before cracking into the NHL with Pittsburgh (Wheeling’s long time affiliate) and eventually becoming a popular fixture with the Phoenix Coyotes. Wheeling also has been home to Current Philadelphia Head Coach and Champion Head Coach with the Hurricanes back in 2006, Peter Laviolette, current Columbus Blue Jacket Mark Letestu, rookie standout last season with the Minnesota Wild Nick Johnson, 2001 Stanley Cup Champion David Aebischer, recent addition to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thomas Vokun, and several other notable talents.
Another NHL player that spent time in the ECHL is Alex Burrows, who has spent the last seven seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Burrows played 53 games for the Greenville Grrowl and 13 games with the Baton Rouge Kingfish during the 2002-2003 season, then parts of the next two seasons with the Columbia Inferno totaling 68 games.
The ECHL has grown into a solid proving round for potential NHL stand-outs. From players, coaches, scouts, officials, and even play by play broadcasters such as Boston’s Dave Goucher who started his career with the Wheeling Nailers, the ECHL has and looks to continue to produce some of the best in the business.