Utah Grizzlies CEO Kevin Bruder announced today at a press conference that Assistant Coach Kevin Colley has been named Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations. Colley replaces Jason Christie, who on Wednesday was named Assistant Coach for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. At 29, Colley becomes the youngest active head coach in the ECHL. Brad Church of Phoenix was previously the youngest at age 32.
The Grizzlies are proud to be the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Islanders and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Colley joined the Grizzlies in August of 2007 after retiring as a New York Islander February 24, 2006 due to injury. He served as Assistant Coach this past season as Utah advanced past Fresno and Victoria in the playoffs and into the conference finals.
“We are very excited to name Kevin Colley the next Head Coach of the Utah Grizzlies,” said Bruder. “He is a valued member of both the Grizzlies family and the Islanders organization and was an integral part of our success last year. Along with Jason Christie, Kevin has spent the summer putting together this year’s team and this is an easy transition.”
“I want to thank Mr. Bruder and Mr. Elmore (Grizzlies Owner Dave Elmore) for this opportunity,” said Colley. “I have the passion and hunger to succeed and look forward to continuing the success of the Grizzlies organization. I also want to thank Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, Bridgeport President Howard Saffan and Islanders Scout Toby O’Brien for their support during this process.”
"Losing Jason to Chicago is unfortunate, but having a person as experienced as Kevin Colley to step in will make the transition seamless," Sound Tigers president Howard Saffan said. "Kevin learned a tremendous amount last season as the Grizzlies Assistant Coach and having him lead the team this year will help many of the young prospects within the organization develop into future Islanders."
Colley played in the ECHL from 1999-2003 and was named MVP of the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs as the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies captured the Kelly Cup. Colley was named an ECHL All-Star in 2003. In the AHL, he was named captain of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before making his NHL debut on October 27, 2005 for the Islanders. His playing career was cut short on January 31, 2006 when he suffered a broken neck and fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae in a game for the Islanders versus Washington.
The Grizzlies open the 2008-2009 season Saturday, October 18 at Idaho. The home opening weekend for Utah is Friday and Saturday October 24 and 25 versus Alaska at the E-Center.