After missing the second half of last season due to a groin injury and sports related hernia, the Charlotte Checkers were unsure of the product they had signed at the beginning of the season. In the twenty-five game tryout stint, head coach Jeff Daniels along with the organization have been thoroughly impressed and have asked the goaltender to extend his contract.
“He’s played great for us all along and has been a leader in the locker room,” said Daniels. “It really was a no-brainer for us to bring him back, and it was just a matter of making sure he felt the same way.” (via Checkers.com)
Ellis will be in the lineup this weekend for their three-in-three stint, beginning against the Houston Aeros on Friday.
- Around the Pond Hockey:
Dan Ellis grew up in Orangeville, Ontario playing for the AA Orangeville Flyers of the OMHA Tri-County Hockey League. He would later go on to play AAA hockey for the Halton Hills Hurricanes of the OMHA South-Central Triple A Hockey League. In 1996-97 he was undrafted by Ontario and went on to play Major Midget Hockey for Halton and then the Newmarket Hurricanes club in the OPJHL. After spending one season in the OPJHL he went on to play in the south for the USHL and then three years at the University of Omaha-Nebraska.
- Minor League History:
Ellis was drafted in 2000 as the 60th pick overall in the second round. In 2003-2004 he split his time between the Omaha Grizzlies and Iowa Steelheads, finishing the season in Iowa and helping lead them to a Kelly Cup Championship. He achieved the 2004 MVP Award with a 13-0 record and 1.86 goals against average.
In 2005-2006 he would find himself playing for the Iowa Stars along with Mike Smith. He finished the season with a record of 16-13-1.
- Professional Career:
Ellis made his NHL debut in February of 2004 with the Dallas Stars against the LA Kings. He earned his first win and stopped 25 shots, preserving a 4-3 victory.
That would be the only game he appeared in for Dallas and wouldn’t make his next NHL appearance until 2007 when he landed the starting role for the Nashville Predators after being signed as a free agent. In his first season in Nashville he was among the top goaltenders in save percentage ranking first , shutouts, and goals against average. After helping the Predators advance to the playoffs in 2008, Ellis was named winner of the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award for having the best save percentage in the NHL. He signed a two-year deal through 2010, but due to a poor performance start, lost the starting position to Pekka Rinne.
In June of 2010 his rights were traded to the Montreal Canadiens along with Dustin Boyd. They were traded for Sergei Kostitsen and draft picks. Unfortunately, with Carey Price being outstanding for the Habs and a backup goalie in place, Ellis remained unsigned and became an unrestricted free agent with Tampa Bay scooping him up with a two-year deal.
With the Lightning he appeared in 31 games and held a record of 13-7-6 for the 2010-2011 season and had controversey surround him as he lashed out on Twitter about the 24% pay cut from the League resulting from the 2004-2005 lockout. As if openly expressing his views on the matter weren’t bad enough, he lashed out at a fan stating: “If you lost 18% of your income would you be happy? If you don’t make a lot of money, I don’t expect you to understand.” And, “I am not holding a gun at your head to follow so do yourself a favor.”
In February of 2011 he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks where he would start off as the starting goaltender with a solid 8-3 record and then lose his position to Ray Emery after allowing four goals on 24 shots.
- Here and Now:
Ellis currently holds a record of 6-5-2 in the 13 games he has starred in for the Checkers and holds a .927 save percentage(6th in the AHL) and 2.43 goals against average (12th in the AHL).
While he has a history of strong and solid starts we will have to keep our fingers crossed in hopes that he doesn’t fall off the radar as the season progresses. Thus far he seems to be remaining level headed and concrete for the Checkers, perhaps he has learned his lesson and grown up. Welcome aboard Dan, we look forward to following your success in Charlotte!