The ECHL announced on Tuesday that a current member of the Washington Capitals’ front office will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2024.
Jason Fitzsimmons, the Capitals’ director of minor league operations, spent four seasons playing in the ECHL, four seasons as an assistant coach in the league, and five seasons as the head coach of the Caps-affiliated South Carolina Stingrays. He’ll join Brad Dexter, Shawn Wheeler, Scott Burfoot, and June M. Kelly in the 2024 group of inductees.
Scott Burfoot, Brad Dexter, Jason Fitzsimmons, June M. Kelly and Shawn Wheeler are the 2024 inductees for the #ECHL Hall of Fame.
— ECHL (@ECHL) November 7, 2023
Fitzsimmons, who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 11th round of the 1991 NHL Draft, got into 70 games as a goaltender for the Stingrays and an additional 23 for the Columbus Chill. In 1997, the Regina, Saskatoon native won the Kelly Cup with the Stingrays and was awarded playoff MVP for his 17-game postseason effort.
Fitzsimmons would go on to win another Kelly Cup as an assistant coach with South Carolina in 2001. During his tenure as head coach he planted a coaching tree of sorts by hiring Jared Bednar as an assistant which would eventually lead to current Capitals coach Spencer Carbery getting the Stingrays bench boss duties.
After his stint in charge of South Carolina, Fitzsimmons joined the Capitals’ front office as a pro scout in 2007. Almost ten years later, before the 2016-17 campaign, he would add his current title of director of minor league operations. In that position, he lifted the Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears last summer.
Fitzsimmons was also on the ice when the Capitals lifted the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup in Las Vegas in 2018. For his day with the Cup, he brought the prestigious trophy back to Charleston, South Carolina.
This has to be the freaking coolest thing I've ever seen on a residential subdivision driveway in West Ashley. @SCStingrays HOF'er & @capitals scout Jason Fitzsimmons has his day w/the @StanleyCup -name etched on it forever. Party rolling from 9am til 10pm- I stopped by his house pic.twitter.com/t0k9FxaNwB
— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) October 19, 2018
Brad Dexter, who joins Fitzsimmons in the 2024 class, is also a former member of the Stingrays. The right-handed defenseman played 291 games for South Carolina from 1997-2001. He was also a member of both the 1997 and 2001 Kelly Cup winning teams.
Dexter would go on to coach college hockey as an assistant coach at Clarkson University, Colgate University, and Princeton University. His latest duties in hockey come as a scout for the Buffalo Sabres.
Congratulations to former Stingrays, Brad Dexter and Jason Fitzsimmons, for being selected as 2024 inductees for the ECHL Hall of Fame! 🏆
— SC Stingrays (@SCStingrays) November 7, 2023
The official induction ceremony for both men will take place on January 15, 2024 at the Savannah Convention Center. Congrats to you both!
Here’s the press release from the ECHL:
2024 ECHL Hall of Fame Class is Burfoot, Dexter, Fitzsimmons, Kelly and Wheeler
SHREWSBURY, N.J. – The ECHL announced today that the 2024 inductees for the ECHL Hall of Fame are Scott Burfoot, Brad Dexter, Jason Fitzsimmons, June M. Kelly and Shawn Wheeler.
The 2024 ECHL Hall of Fame ceremony, presented by BFL CANADA and Sutton Special Risk, will take place at 12 p.m. on Monday, January 15, 2024 at the Savannah Convention Center.
The five will be formally inducted as the 16th class of the ECHL Hall of Fame at a luncheon that will be held in conjunction with the 2024 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic presented by Gulfstream.
“Our 16th ECHL Hall of Fame Induction Class truly highlights the League’s foundation and growth as an integral part in the development of hockey in North America as we recognize a builder, coaches and players as key contributors to our League” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “This event means so much to our history and our inductees, and will be a special moment as we celebrate in downtown Savannah.”
“BFL CANADA is once again honored to be the Presenting Co-sponsor of the 2024 ECHL Hall of Fame Luncheon alongside Sutton Special Risk,” said BFL CANADA Vice President, National Practice Leader – Film and Entertainment Nellie Lindner. “We are excited to be celebrating each of the inductees and all their contributions to the League as well as their career.
“We can’t think of a better place to commemorate this annual event other than in this southern coastal gem of Savannah,” Lindner continued. “We are also looking forward to exploring this charming City and all Savannah has to offer.”
Scott Burfoot suited up in 298 career ECHL games over five seasons with Erie, Roanoke Valley, Huntsville and Richmond. He was named to four All-Star Games, which is tied for the third most in League history, while totaling 427 points, for a 1.43 points-per-game average, which ranks sixth all-time.
Brad Dexter ranks as one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in ECHL history. He totaled 361 points (67g-294a) in 464 career games over seven seasons from 1996-2004 with Raleigh, South Carolina, Pensacola and Victoria. A two-time Kelly Cup champion with the Stingrays in 1997 and 2001, Dexter is sixth all-time among ECHL defensemen in points and assists and is eighth in goals. He led all ECHL defensemen with 59 assists in 1999-2000, and was named to the All-ECHL Second Team in both 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Dexter is currently in his first season as a professional scout with the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres.
Jason Fitzsimmons went 52-25-10 in 93 career ECHL appearances with Columbus (Chill) and South Carolina from 1992-98. During the 1997 Kelly Cup Playoffs, he went 17-7 to help lead the Stingrays to the first-ever Kelly Cup title and earn Playoff Most Valuable Player honors. Following his retirement as a player, he entered the coaching ranks, serving as South Carolina’s assistant coach from 1998-2002, adding a second Kelly Cup title to his resume in 2001, before being elevated to the head-coaching role in 2002-03. Over five seasons as the Stingrays’ head coach, Fitzsimmons went 188-126-46 before joining the Washington Capitals front office in 2007-08. With the Capitals, Fitzsimmons earned a Stanley Cup championship in 2018, and currently serves as the team’s Director of Minor League Operations.
June M. Kelly, the first lady of the ECHL, served an integral role during the early days of the ECHL, working in the League Office for seven years. The wife of founding Commissioner Patrick J. Kelly, she served as the administration and financial overseer of the ECHL, allowing her husband to travel and build the League during its infancy. In 2019, the ECHL renamed the Playoff Most Valuable Player Trophy in her honor.
Shawn Wheeler averaged over a point-per-game in his ECHL career, totaling 325 points (152g-173a) in 294 games over parts of seven seasons with Greensboro, Hampton Roads and Charlotte. He scored 30 or more goals in four of his five full ECHL seasons, and captured the 1996 Riley Cup title with the Checkers. Wheeler participated in three All-Star Games during his career, which is tied for the fifth most in ECHL history, and following his retirement as a player, he became the first Black head coach in League history with Charlotte from 1998-2000.
The inaugural ECHL Hall of Fame class was inducted in 2008, and over the years, 58 individuals have been enshrined. Inductees are enshrined in the ECHL Hall of Fame, which is open around the clock online at ECHLHallOfFame.com, as well as being recognized at the league office in Shrewsbury, N.J. and in the ECHL section at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league, behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has grown from five teams in four states in 1988-89 into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 36th season in 2023-24.
Hall of Fame members are selected in five categories: Player, Coach, Developmental Player, Builder, and Referee/Linesman. No more than five candidates may be elected to the ECHL Hall of Fame each year with no more than three Players, one Coach, one Developmental Player, two Builders and one Referee/Linesman. The Coach, Developmental Player, Builder and the Referee/Linesman categories are dependent upon the number of candidates in the Player category.
The nomination and/or selection of candidates will be determined by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and its Chairmen, Joe Ernst and Patrick J. Kelly.
Only members of the Selection Committee, the Board of Governors, teams or persons affiliated with the ECHL may submit official nominations which must be made in writing to the league office. Fans are encouraged to contact their team to propose names for nomination.
Headline photo: Katie Fri / Hershey Bears
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