Toledo Walleye president and general manager Joe Napoli was named ECHL executive of the year Tuesday.
Napoli was selected by the ECHL board of governors and received the award at the league’s annual meetings in Las Vegas last weekend.
Under Napoli, the Walleye set a team record for attendance with 226,743 people attending 36 regular-season games at Huntington Center, ranking fourth in the ECHL with 6,298 per game.
In the team’s four seasons, 892,689 fans have attended games at the downtown arena.
“It’s certainly a reflection of the entire organization,” Napoli said. “You talk about team efforts in sports and it has everything to do with the people that work for the Walleye. From our board members down to our ushers and ticket takers, it’s a reflection on everyone.
“I am very uncomfortable being singled out because we all know it is indicative of the efforts of so many people.”
Toledo had nine sellout crowds and set a team record for group ticket sales. The organization also finished second in the ECHL in group revenue.
According to the ECHL, Napoli also serves on multiple league committees and frequently works with colleagues to “elevate the well-being of the league.”
Napoli also is president and general manager of the Mud Hens.
The Brooklyn native has overseen the reincarnation of hockey in Toledo since 2007 with the start up of the Walleye organization, which recently completed its fourth season.
Napoli has been the Mud Mud Hens’ general manager since 1999, leading the team’s return to the top of minor league baseball, including construction of Fifth Third Field downtown.
Before coming to Toledo, Napoli worked for the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Tigers.
The Walleye organization also was honored on Tuesday with the ECHL’s award of excellence for marketing.
The award singles out an ECHL team that executes a well-rounded marketing, sponsorship, and advertising campaign.
“That goes back to the significant support that the community provides,” Napoli said. “Our fans are exceptional. Our sponsors and naming-rights partners are outstanding.”
Napoli credited chief marketing officer Kim McBroom for her efforts.
“Kim and her team sweat the details and try to connect with fans and sponsors. They work so hard on our marketing message,” Napoli said. “I’m certainly very proud.”
The league said the organization brought a business-to-business campaign targeting group outings.
The ECHL also said the Walleye established an outdoor, television, and radio campaign targeting single-game buyers.
“New in-game advertising campaigns resulted in an increase in concessions and rental suite sales while a new fan wear campaign led to an increase in merchandise sales,” the league stated.
The team also raised money for charities through theme nights such as Super Hero Night, Boy Scout Jamboree, Hockey History Night, and Pink in the Rink.
GOALIE GONE: Former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum was released by the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
McCollum played in parts of three seasons with the Walleye.
McCollum became the first player in Walleye history to be called up to the NHL when he suited up for the Red Wings on March 30, 2011.
McCollum was a first-round pick by the Red Wings in 2008, selected with the 30th overall.
He started his pro career in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League in 2009.
He made his debut with the Walleye on Jan. 2, 2010, and played in four games for Toledo that season.
McCollum played in 23 games for Toledo in 2010-11. He finished with an 11-9-2 record and a 2.76 goals-against average.
McCollum appeared in 15 games for the Walleye in 2011-12 and had a 6-6-2 record and a 2.62 GAA.
McCollum, 23, did not play for Toledo last season. He had a 18-11-2 record with a 2.63 GAA for Grand Rapids last season.
But another former Walleye goalie, Petr Mrazek, took over as the No. 1 goalie in Grand Rapids and led the Griffins to a Calder Cup title.
McCollum was a restricted free agent but the Red Wings did not tender a qualifying offer and have relinquished his rights.
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