|2009-10 ECHL season|
|No. of teams||20|
|Country(ies)||United States (19 teams)
Canada (1 team)
|Most recent champion(s)||South Carolina Stingrays|
|Most championship(s)||(tie) Hampton Roads Admirals and
South Carolina Stingrays (3)
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's official website lists the league as "The Premier AA" league of hockey in North America, because most teams serve as feeder teams for American Hockey League teams. Hockey does not use letter-designations to define their league's levels, but the ECHL has tried for years to establish such a pecking order, with some success.
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.
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 Carolina Thunderbirds (now the Wheeling Nailers), the Erie Panthers (now the Victoria Salmon Kings), the Johnstown Chiefs, the Knoxville Cherokees (the franchise, as the Pee Dee Pride, is currently suspended, to resume play in Conway, South Carolina in 2009–10), 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, continues to use unbalanced conferences and divisions, which has in the past made 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 league currently (as of 2008) consists of nine West Coast-based teams in the National Conference, and twelve eastern, midwestern and southern teams in the American Conference.
In the past four years, 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. In 2008, the league introduced the ECHL toolbar for internet browsers which gave users short cut access to statistics, scores, transactions, and news updates.
|Division||Team||Arena||City/area||NHL affiliate(s)||AHL affiliate(s)|
|Pacific||Bakersfield Condors||Rabobank Arena||Bakersfield, CA||Anaheim Ducks|
|Las Vegas Wranglers||Orleans Arena||Las Vegas, NV||Phoenix Coyotes||San Antonio Rampage|
|Ontario Reign||Citizens Business Bank Arena||Ontario, CA||Los Angeles Kings||Manchester Monarchs|
|Stockton Thunder||Stockton Arena||Stockton, CA||San Jose Sharks
|West||Alaska Aces||Sullivan Arena||Anchorage, AK||St. Louis Blues||Peoria Rivermen|
|Idaho Steelheads||Qwest Arena||Boise, ID||Dallas Stars||Texas Stars|
|Utah Grizzlies||E Center||West Valley City, UT||New York Islanders
|Bridgeport Sound Tigers
|Victoria Salmon Kings||Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre||Victoria, BC||Vancouver Canucks||Manitoba Moose|
|Division||Team||Arena||City/area||NHL affiliate(s)||AHL affiliate(s)|
|East||Elmira Jackals||First Arena||Elmira, NY||Ottawa Senators||Binghamton Senators|
|Johnstown Chiefs||Cambria County War Memorial Arena||Johnstown, PA||Minnesota Wild||Houston Aeros|
|Reading Royals||Sovereign Center||Reading, PA||Toronto Maple Leafs
|Trenton Devils||Sun National Bank Center||Trenton, NJ||New Jersey Devils||Lowell Devils|
|North||Cincinnati Cyclones||US Bank Arena||Cincinnati, OH||Montreal Canadiens
|Kalamazoo Wings||Wings Stadium||Kalamazoo, MI||Philadelphia Flyers
San Jose Sharks
|Toledo Walleye||Lucas County Arena||Toledo, OH||Detroit Red Wings
|Grand Rapids Griffins
|Wheeling Nailers||WesBanco Arena||Wheeling, WV||Pittsburgh Penguins||Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins|
|South||Charlotte Checkers||Time Warner Cable Arena||Charlotte, NC||New York Rangers||Hartford Wolf Pack|
|Florida Everblades||Germain Arena||Estero, FL||Carolina Hurricanes
|Albany River Rats
|Gwinnett Gladiators||Arena at Gwinnett Center||Duluth, GA||Atlanta Thrashers||Chicago Wolves|
|South Carolina Stingrays||North Charleston Coliseum||North Charleston, SC||Washington Capitals||Hershey Bears|
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 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.
The conference finals and the Kelly Cup final are best of seven series. 
One team is scheduled to relocate for the 2009–10 season and two which were previously under suspension should return with new home arenas for the 2010–11 season.
Teams that no longer play within the ECHL are listed below. Many of the former teams which had not moved are considered to have suspended operations and the franchises placed for sale, but in reality are and were simply financial failures, similar to defunct teams in all other minor league sports histories.
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.. Both the Dayton and Biloxi (Mississippi) markets were replaced by teams in other leagues.
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
|2008||Henry Brabham||ECHL founder|
|Patrick J. Kelly||Commissioner|
|2009||John Brophy||Head coach|
|Rod Taylor||Left winger|
|East||Elmira Jackals · Johnstown Chiefs · Reading Royals · Trenton Devils ·|
|North||Cincinnati Cyclones · Kalamazoo Wings · Toledo Walleye · Wheeling Nailers|
|South||Charlotte Checkers · Florida Everblades · Gwinnett Gladiators · South Carolina Stingrays|
|Pacific||Bakersfield Condors · Las Vegas Wranglers · Ontario Reign · Stockton Thunder|
|West||Alaska Aces · Idaho Steelheads · Utah Grizzlies · Victoria Salmon Kings|
|Related articles: List of ECHL seasons · Kelly Cup · Brabham Cup · All-Star Game · Awards · Defunct teams · Hall of Fame · Arenas ·|
|North American Minor Professional leagues|
|American Hockey League • Central Hockey League • Colonial Hockey League • ECHL • Eastern Professional Hockey League • International Hockey League (1945-2001) • International Hockey League (2007-) • Pacific Coast Hockey League (1933-1941) • Quebec Hockey League • South East Hockey League • Southern Hockey League (1995-1996) • Southern Professional Hockey League • Sunshine Hockey League • West Coast Hockey League • Western Hockey League (minor pro) • Edinburgh Trophy • Eastern Hockey League •|
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at ECHL. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|