This is the first season Hockey’s Future will cover the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) in depth. For those of you that haven’t followed the ECHL we feel a little background information is in order.
The ECHL is the largest developmental professional hockey league in North America. Formed in 1988, the league had five teams. The original five were the Erie Panthers, Johnstown Chiefs, Knoxville Cherokees and the Virginia Lancers. Only the Johnstown Chiefs remain in their original city. The Erie Panthers are now known as the Baton Rouge King Fish. The Knoxville Cherokees relocated to Florence, South Carolina in 1997 and are known as the Pee Dee Pride. The Virginia Lancers are the most traveled team. They made stops in Roanoke, VA as the Rebels 1990-1992 and the Rampage, 1992-93 as well as Huntsville AL in 1993-94 and finally settled in Tallahassee FL as the Tiger Sharks.
During the 1998-1999 season, paid attendance was over 4.8 million fans. The ECHL will have twenty-seven teams, spread out over fourteen states playing this season. Twenty-three of the Twenty-seven NHL teams last season had ECHL affilliates.
Over 100, former, East Coast Hockey League players have made it to the NHL. The most notable player to make the jump is Olaf Kolzig of the Washington Capitals. Along with Kolzig, other success stories include Jamie Mclennan, Byron Dafoe and Manny Legace. Tough guys Krystof Oliwa, Paul Laus and Darren Langdon are also former ECHLers. Last season, Goalie, Steve Valliquette was called up to the New York Islanders from the Hampton Roads Admirals.
ESPN2 broadcast the ECHL All-Star game last season. ESPN2 has renewed the contract for this season and will broadcast the All-Star game, which will be held in Greenville, South Carolina on January 19, 2000. The game will be broadcast on January 20, 2000 at 2:30 pm.
ECHL Training camps are scheduled to begin on or about October 1. The first puck will drop when the, 1998-1999 regular season champion, Pee Dee Pride visit the Augusta Lynx on October 14th.
Come back, visit us often, and see who is rated as the best prospects and players in the ECHL.
Hockey’s Future is always looking for a few good correspondents if you are interested send e-mail to [email protected]