Update: The league’s Board of Governors will decide which conference the Express should join at its next meeting in January 2011, but a league spokesperson tells us that “all signs point to them being in the Eastern Conference.” The most obvious sign is that the Eastern Conference consists of two 4-team divisions and one 3-team division, while the Western Conference is split evenly into two 4-team divisions. Plus, Hampton Estates is more than 1,400 miles east of the closest Western Conference team.
Here’s what else we know from the ECHL’s press release:
Former NHL and AHL player, and most recently head coach of the Elmira Jackals, Steve Martinson, brings championship experience along with an unblemished playoff qualification record to the team.
In 2007, Martinson brought a championship to northern Illinois when his Rockford IceHogs won the UHL’s Colonial Cup in the league’s final season, defeating the Kalamazoo Wings in seven games. In his three seasons as Rockford’s coach, his teams finished with no worse than a .631 winning percentage.
Prior to his time with the IceHogs, Martinson coached the San Diego Gulls to five championships in nine seasons, eight in the WCHL and the last in the ECHL. His first three seasons with the Gulls saw Martinson bring three WCHL championships to Southern California. In his lone ECHL season with San Diego of 2003-2004, Martinson’s Gulls won the Brabham Cup championship with a 49-13-10 record, setting the league record for most wins by a first-year team as the Gulls became only the second expansion team to win the ECHL’s regular-season points title.
Fans had the opportunity to submit their suggestions for the team’s name during the “Name Your Hockey Team” promotion this summer.