From management to coaching to the players themselves, the Utica Comets have NHL experience throughtout the organization.
The Utica Comets are of course not an NHL team, but they have a lot of people that have been there.
This wealth of experience has helped the team put together the best record in the American Hockey League to this point at 17-1-2-0, which also carries an outstanding .900 winning percentage. Since the Comets and other AHL teams are made up of mostly players trying to get to (or in some cases, back) to the National Hockey League, the NHL experience in the organization will also be an integral part of helping the players get to the highest level in professional hockey. So the question is, just who in the Utica Comets organization has NHL experience, and exactly how much is there? Let’s break it down into three categories: ownership/management, coaching staff, and players (position they played will be in parentheses). All statistics are as of December 11th, 2021, and are courtesy of https://hockeydb.com and https://hockey-reference.com.
- Robert Esche – President of the Utica Comets.
NHL playing career (goaltender), regular season: 186 games played.
NHL playoffs: 25 games played.
Esche played in the NHL for eight seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers. He won the William Jennings Trophy in 2003 with Flyers teammate Roman Cechmanek. The William Jennings Trophy is given to the goaltender(s) who play a minimum of twenty-five games while allowing the fewest goals scored.
- Kevin Dineen – Head Coach
NHL playing career (right wing), regular season: 1,188 games played.
NHL playoffs (as a player): 59 games played.
NHL Head Coach (regular season): 146 games.
NHL playoffs (as a head coach): 7 games.
NHL Assistant Coach (regular season): 343 games.
NHL playoffs (as an assistant coach): 34 games.
Dineen had a stellar NHL career as a player, he played 19 seasons for four teams and was an all star twice. After his playing career was over, he was head coach of the Florida Panthers for just over two seasons, and was then an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for just over four seasons. he won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015.
- Sergei Brylin – Assistant Coach
NHL playing career (center) regular season: 765 games played.
NHL playoffs: 109 games played.
Brylin played in the NHL for thirteen seasons, all with the New Jersey Devils. He won the Stanley Cup three times during his playing career. He has no NHL coaching experience.
- Ryan Parent – Assistant Coach
NHL playing career (defenseman) regular season: 106 games played.
NHL playoffs: 27 games played.
- Brian Eklund – Goaltending Coach
NHL playing career (goaltender): 1 game played
- Chase DeLeo (center): 7 games played.
- Alexander Holtz (right wing): 6 games played.
- Brian Flynn (center): Regular Season – 275 games played. Playoffs – 7 games played.
- Joe Gambardella (center): 15 games played.
- AJ Greer (left wing): 38 games played.
- Fabian Zetterlund (left wing): 3 games played.
- Tyler Wotherspoon (defenseman): Regular Season – 30 games played. Playoffs – 6 games played.
- Nolan Foote (left wing): 6 games played.
- Marian Studenic (right wing): 13 games played.
- Frederik Gauthier (center): Regular Season – 178 games played. Playoffs – 8 games played.
- Robbie Russo (defenseman): 19 games played.
- Kevin Bahl (defenseman): 7 games played.
- Colton White (defenseman): 17 games played.
- Nico Daws (goaltender): 2 games played.
Note: Since goaltender Akira Schmid is currently with the New Jersey Devils and not with the Comets, his one game played in the NHL will not count toward these totals.
To break it all down, here are the totals for NHL experience in the Utica Comets organization:
Regular Season – 186 games played.
Playoffs – 25 games played.
- Coaching staff:
Regular season – playing careers: 2,060 games.
Playoffs – playing careers: 195 games.
Regular season – Head Coach: 146 games.
Playoffs – Head Coach: 7 games.
Regular season – Assistant Coach: 343 games.
Playoffs – Assistant Coach: 34 games.
Regular season – 616 games played.
Playoffs – 21 games played.
- Total NHL regular season games played across all categories: 2,862.
- Total NHL playoff games played across all categories: 241.
It’s pretty easy to see that there is an abundance of NHL experience within the Utica Comets organization. The number of NHL games played will flucuate slightly as players get reassigned and recalled, but the core management and coaching that is in place knows what it takes to win in the National Hockey League. This experience will not only serve the Comets this season, but for years down the road.