The ECHL is taking nominations from fans for its all-decade team, the league’s best players and coaches from 2000-01 to 2009-10.
Here’s the process: Fans may nominate players for team from now through Sept. 24 by e-mailing ECHL@echl.com with the subject line containing “All-Decade Team Nominations.” The ECHL will present a list of qualified nominees in early October and fans will have the opportunity to take part in a final vote on ECHL.com to determine the All-Decade Team. The League will announce the team in November.
The criteria for nominees, per the ECHL: “Players or coaches must have made a significant impact on the ECHL from 2000 through 2010. An individual must have played or coached in parts of at least four seasons from the 2000-01 season through the 2009-10 season to be eligible for the All-Decade Team. Only those accomplishments, statistics, awards, honors and achievements earned during ECHL play should be taken into account when nominating players or coaches for the All-Decade Team. Final nominations will be based on voting and the meeting of certain criteria.”
So, who in the brief history of Reign hockey has the best chance of meeting those criteria?
A look at the ECHL record book – usually a good place to start when determining a league’s best players of all time - reveals few past or present Reign players. That’s not surprising for a two-year-old franchise, and considering the record books (as of this posting) don’t appear to include the 2009-10 season.
That doesn’t mean that all who have worn the dragon crest are without a chance.
Based on number of games played in the league, defenseman Chad Starling deserves a look. The soon-to-be 30-year-old doesn’t score much (113 points in 503 games), but has been able to find work in the league on and off since 2001 as a shutdown defenseman. By comparison, the league record for games played is 789, by Cam Brown between 1991 and 2006. Since the record book only lists the top five in each category, we can’t say where Starling ranks on the all-time games played list, but it would take two more seasons for him to crack the top five (fifth-ranked Rick Kowalsky has played 619 games in the league). Starling did tie for fifth in one category: Plus/minus rating over a full season; he was a plus-48 in 2007-08 for the eventual Kelly Cup champion Cincinnati Cyclones.
If the ECHL’s all-decade team needs a 6-foot-6 blueliner, Starling could be the man.
Others who are eligible:
• Center Jon Francisco (2004-07, 2008-10): 71 goals, 176 points in 275 games.
• Left wing Todd Jackson (2004-07, 2008-10): 50 goals, 144 points in 221 games.
• Forward Brad Mehalko (2000-01, 2002-03, 2003-06, 2008-09): 61 goals, 146 points, 357 PIM in 242 games.
• Defenseman David Walker (2004-07, 2008-10): 22 goals, 117 points, minus-4, 594 PIM in 322 games.
• Defenseman Shawn Germain (2006-10): nine goals, 57 points, minus-3 in 247 games.
• Defenseman Andrew Martens (2005-10): 26 goals, 137 points, plus-12 in 267 games.
• Forward Sean O’Connor (2002-10): 115 goals, 185 points, 742 PIM in 321 games.
• Head coach Karl Taylor (2005-10): 181-142-38 in 361 games; three playoff-round wins.