Henry Brabham founded the ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. Brabham owned three of the original five teams, including the legendary Johnstown Chiefs who were the last original ECHL team to play in their original city. The dedication of the Virginia businessman was crucial to the league surviving to span from coast-to-coast while advancing more than 450 players and countless coaches, on-ice officials and front office personnel to the National Hockey League.
PATRICK J. KELLY
Patrick J. Kelly was the inaugural Commissioner of the ECHL which from 1988-96 experienced the greatest expansion in minor league hockey history, growing from five teams to 21. He was instrumental in establishing affiliations with teams in the NHL, creating the opportunity for players, on-ice officials and front office personnel to develop and move up the hockey ladder. He became Commissioner Emeritus in 1996 and since 1997 has presented the postseason champion with the Patrick J. Kelly Cup.
During his nine-year career, Chris Valicevic established himself as not only one of the best defensemen in league history, but one of the greatest players overall while playing for the Greensboro Monarchs and the Louisiana IceGators. He was selected to a record seven All-Star Games and was named First Team All-ECHL five times while being named the league Most Valuable Player in 1998-99. He is the all-time leader with 102 postseason games and is the career regular season and postseason leader among defensemen in assists and points.
Nick Vitucci has won a record five ECHL championships, four as a player and one as an assistant coach, and has been involved with the league as a player and coach every season since the league’s inception. Named the postseason Most Valuable Player twice, he played 14 seasons and is the career leader among goaltenders in games, minutes and wins for both the regular season and the postseason. He played in two All-Star Games and was named First Team All-ECHL in 1991-92 and 1997-98. He was head coach of the Toledo Storm from 2003-07 and the Toledo Walleye from 2009-14 and was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2004-05.