Dear ECHL Fans,

Welcome to the 33rd year of ECHL Hockey and the exciting 2020-21 Season that lies ahead. This year we look to continue to build on our storied history and heritage that have made the ECHL the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League in North America, with over 670 players having gone on to the NHL, and bringing affordable entertainment to millions of fans in our markets.

This has been a challenging year for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ECHL is no different. The premature end to the 2019-20 Season was a disappointing result for everyone, but the safety and health of our players, staff and fans are of the utmost importance. The time off has allowed the League, our Member Teams and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association to implement a plan that allows us to responsbily return to the ice for the 2020-21 Season and be a part of the rebuilding process in our communities

Prior to the cancellation of  the 2019-20 Season, the ECHL welcomed over 3.5 million attendees, and once again surpassed the 4,000 mark in average attendance for the 15th consecutive Season and the 28th time in the last 30 years. We pride ourselves on offering affordable entertainment to the communities we serve, welcoming sport fans, families, businesses, and groups of all sizes to enjoy an outing together and take in the exciting ECHL action and atmosphere for a combined first-class experience.

In addition, our Teams made an impact off the ice in their local communities as well, donating over $3 million to charitable and non-profit organizations during the 2019-20 Season, bringing the total amount donated in the last nine years to more than $37 million.  This is on top of the countless hours our Players and front office staff dedicate to local schools, hospitals, and charities to become an integral part of the community. Last season, the Worcester Railers were awarded the ECHL Community Service Award for the second consecutive season, and the Railers’ Connor Doherty received the Player Community Service Award for his commitment and work in the Worcester area.  In addition, the ECHL will once again partner with the National Hockey League in support of their Hockey Fights Cancer and Hockey is For Everyone initiatives to bring our communities together for a great cause.The past 32 years have also allowed the ECHL to unquestionably become an integral part of the professional hockey player development process, as 678 players have gone on to play in the NHL after their time in the ECHL, including 16 who made their NHL debut in 2019-20. Furthermore, countless officials, coaches and front office staff have moved on to the AHL and NHL as they have used the ECHL to develop their career. For the 2020-21 season, 15 of the 31 AHL head coaches and over 40 coaches on NHL staffs have ECHL ties. Last season, the recipients of both the NHL Coach of the Year (Boston’s Bruce Cassidy) and the AHL Coach of the Year (Milwaukee’s Karl Taylor) were both former ECHL head coaches.  Furthermore, approximately one-third of the current on-ice officials in the NHL spent time honing their skills in the ECHL. For each of the last 23 seasons, the ECHL has had affiliations with at least 20 NHL teams.

The ECHL has been represented on the last 20 Stanley Cup Champions including in 2020 with Tampa Bay Lightning players Yanni Gourde and Carter Verhaeghe; Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde; Director of Player Development JP Cote; Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Berger and Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dave Mishkin.Thank you on behalf of the ECHL and all of our Teams for your continued support and we hope that you and those you attend with enjoy following your favorite ECHL club and making lasting memories around the ECHL experience.

Sincerely,

Ryan Crelin

ECHL Commissioner

 



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