Players, coaches, executives and staff who developed their skills in the American Hockey League will once again be well represented on the Stanley Cup after the Los Angeles Kings won the first championship in the franchise’s 45-year history on Monday night.
Nineteen of the 23 players who dressed for a postseason game for Los Angeles were graduates of the AHL, many with the Kings’ top affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.
Jonathan Quick, who made 33 appearances in Manchester between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after posting a 16-4 record with a 1.41 goals-against average, a .946 save percentage and three shutouts.
Kings captain Dustin Brown spent the 2004-05 season in Manchester, notching 29 goals and 45 assists for 74 points in 79 games and representing the Monarchs at the AHL All-Star Classic. Brown tied for the Kings’ team playoff lead in goals (8), assists (12), points (20) and plus/minus (+16), becoming the second American-born captain ever to win the Stanley Cup.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter both finished their junior careers in the spring of 2005 and helped the Philadelphia Phantoms win the Calder Cup, with Carter leading the AHL in playoff scoring. Their head coach that postseason was John Stevens, now an assistant with Los Angeles who adds a Stanley Cup to the four Calder Cups he won as a player (1988, 1991, 1998) and coach (2005) during his AHL Hall of Fame career.
Slava Voynov, a two-time AHL All-Star, was one of four Kings who played in Manchester during the 2011-12 season, joining Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Andrei Loktionov. Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Kyle Clifford, Jonathan Bernier and Brad Richardson are also former Monarchs whose names will now be on the Stanley Cup.
Jarret Stoll reached the Calder Cup Finals with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2003, and Rob Scuderi was a finalist with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2004. Dustin Penner was a Second Team AHL All-Star for the Portland Pirates in 2005-06. Other AHL graduates contributing to Los Angeles’s first Stanley Cup include Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell and Colin Fraser.
Head coach Darryl Sutter has never coached in the AHL, but he cut his teeth as a professional forward with the New Brunswick Hawks, winning the Dudley "Red" Garrett Award as the AHL’s top rookie and reaching the Calder Cup Finals in 1979-80. Kings assistant general manager Ron Hextall is also a former AHL rookie of the year, capturing the award with the Hershey Bears in 1985-86.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of all players competing in the NHL in 2011-12 were AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.