|Costello Family – Camden, Avery, Cayne (front), Ashley, Adelyn, Chad (back)
In a move that caught many by surprise, Allen Americans owner Jack Gulati has selected Chad Costello to become the third coach in Allen Americans franchise history, following Dwight Mullins (2009-2012) and Steve Martinson (2012-22). It is a big step for the 35-year-old Costello to go from player to head coach in Allen but eerily familiar to the coach he is replacing. Steve Martinson went from playing for the San Diego Gulls to the coach as a 36-year-old in 1995 and that turned out pretty well.
– If you haven’t seen the press release issued by the Allen Americans here is the link: https://allenamericans.com/media/americans-announce-third-coach-in-team-history/
I have been able to talk to Chad at some length since he agreed to take the Allen coaching job and attended the press conference yesterday where he answered questions from the media. Here are my thoughts and conclusions:
- Chad does not shy away from the expectation and culture in Allen that any season without a Kelly Cup is a disappointment, he embraces it. I found this quote in the archives when Costello was playing in Europe, and I asked him about his experience with the Americans. “Allen is home to us, we love it there. I love the culture and the expectation to win. The fans are amazing in every aspect. Coach Martinson is the best coach I have ever had. He always got the best out of me and my teammates. He is a good coach, great motivator and a good person. Playing for him was challenging and rewarding at the same time. I think Allen is the best place to play because of the 10 year history and the people surrounding the organization.”
- Chad is very comfortable in his own skin and knows what he knows but more importantly knows what he doesn’t know. By my count he has played for well over 20 coaches in leagues from the NAHL, USHL, NCAA, IHL, CHL, ECHL, AHL to leagues in Germany and Norway. He has played with a lot of players who are now coaches. His coaching style will be an amalgamation of what he has learned from all of these coaches and he has mentors all over hockey.
- Chad’s coaching style will be reflective of who he is as a person. If you read articles about old school versus new school coaching styles, his personality has him more in the new school camp.
- Chad signed a three year deal which provides stability for Chad, the Allen organization and the fans.
- Chad has committed to having post game chats with season ticket holders like was done in the past before COVID. As long as there are no restrictions from the ECHL or the CUTX Event Center on gatherings, he will meet with STM’s after each game.
- After talking to Chad one on one, listening to him answer questions yesterday and talking to current and former Allen players, there is little doubt in my mind Costello will be able to recruit a good team to Allen. He has many advantages when recruiting players to Allen from being in a major metro area with a major airport, a great arena, good housing, good weather with year around golf, a great shopping area and a history of winning and loaning players.
- The one area that is still a question mark for me and it is a big one is a NHL/AHL affiliation. Last season Allen was like the last kid picked in a pickup game when you were a kid. Nobody wanted them but the last team to pick had to pick them. Getting an affiliation is something Chad will work hard to lineup but there are few NHL teams looking for an affiliation and finding a good one is even tougher. One thing is certain and that is, if Chad can’t get some AHL training camp spots to use in recruitment and if Allen can’t find an affiliation that will place 8-10 players with the Americans over the course of the season, they will not be able to compete with the top teams in the league. Over a month ago I heard Seattle was unlikely to affiliate with Allen in 2022-23. In my opinion finding a good affiliate is the biggest obstacle in front of Chad Costello in his role as a general manager.
Here are some quotes from the press conference and conversations I have had the last few days:
“Changing a coach is never easy but I chose Chad because of his leadership qualities. In my book Chad brings a great amount of leadership. It is leadership that brings players together and wins championships.”…..Jack Gulati
“Transition from player to coach is something I have been dealing with over the last week. My goals as a player (captain) like winning the Kelly Cup, being the best teammate I could be, assisting players in personal goals, help them with their career and be dedicated to the team 100% are similar to coaching. As I transition to coach I realized my goals are almost exactly the same.”…..Chad Costello
“I have high expectations. Here in Allen it is championship or fail and that expectation will not change. That is something coach Martinson has left. Looking forward, I will strive to keep that expectation in Allen”…..Chad Costello
“I am completely dedicated to coaching, there is no player/coach in the plan. I did make a promise to Asuchak that I am only 35 so when we do bag skates I will do them with the team.”…..Chad Costello
“Maybe some of the younger players don’t know what I have done as a player and I think that is a great thing. I have seen some coaches that lean on their playing career for respect. I don’t want my players to really care what I did as a player. I am a coach now and I haven’t won a game yet. I will work toward that every day from now on.”…..Chad Costello
“I have guys in mind that will be on the staff to help me and that should be out soon.”…..Chad Costello
“As far as my approach with the players, I will be myself with honesty, truthfulness and being open and upfront with the players. The way the young players are now, I want to show these guys that I care before I show them what I know about hockey. If you are playing for someone or working for someone and you know they care about you, that is what is important to me. I want to build as strong a relationship as possible with the players. I want to know their family, do they have a girlfriend, a wife, kids, where are they from etc. Honesty will lead to some hard conversations down the road with some players. Open communication and man to man talks I think will be good for the room.”….Chad Costello
“When it comes to style of play I have been watching a lot of NHL playoffs and the team that comes to mind is Tampa. Obviously they have won two Stanley Cups in a row. If you want to play rough with Tampa they have no problem with that. If you take runs at them they will beat you on the power play. Their speed is up with the best teams. Teams play very different styles in the ECHL so we need to be flexible and versatile and change on demand depending on who we are playing. I am not solely set on exactly how we want to play until I see our personnel, who our affiliate is and until I see exactly who we have. As far as signing players I have a lot of guys in mind. I would say right now it is more culture and character over how hard they shoot and how fast they skate.”….Chad Costello
“I can’t wait to sit down with our fans in as many forums as possible. While there are some things that are best left in the locker room I believe in being as transparent as possible. One thing I would like to tell the fans is the expectations are the exact same if not higher and we are going to hit the ground running.”…..Chad Costello
“I know how important an affiliate is and we are working on an that right now and we have a few options we are pursuing. I just got the job so I am just learning about where we are at. Whoever ends up being our affiliate I plan to work very closely with them to get the I will scratch your back if you scratch my back relationship you need to be successful.”…..Chad Costello
“You can have all the systems and structure in the world but we need talented players to make plays. I need to get some young talent, some fast talent, some guys that are hungry to further their career and then mix in some veteran presence to help them along the way. I feel sometimes the championship is won in the off season. I think one thing I am good at is I get along with all different kinds of personalities. I am able to respectively see what pushes people’s buttons. I won’t be afraid of bringing in a so called project to see if I can help them grow while they help us win games.”…..Chad Costello
“We are super excited and it is such an accomplishment for Chad. I haven’t even thought about all the issues this will create for me. When we got this opportunity we just couldn’t let it go. Chad has worked so hard in his career. I think this shows his character and personality and I am here to support him.”…..Ashley Costello.
“Costy is a great hockey mind and is one of the most determined people I know so I look forward to see how that transfers over to coaching and I am excited to be part of it.”…..Spencer Asuchak
“I am sure I will be saying what would Marty do a lot as I transition into this job.”…..Chad Costello
– It was startling to get home after the press conference and see that eliteprospects.com had already sent out a notification that Chad Costello had retired. It is impossible to talk about Chad Costello the coach without talking about Chad Costello the player. Here is a short recap.
The story of Chad Costello and the Allen Americans began in the summer of 2014. Chad had played just 14 games in the 2013-14 season and his hockey future was in real doubt because of serious concussion issues he was dealing with. When Costello arrived at training camp he was on a tryout contract because it was uncertain he would be able to play symptom free. Chad got through training camp just fine, signed a contract and began a three year career in Allen that is the best three seasons in the history of the ECHL. Maybe the most amazing record and there are many is the fact that Chad went from a tryout contract because of health issues to not missing a single game regular season or playoffs for three straight seasons. That was 276 straight games and he played hurt for many of those games. When Chad returned to Allen in 2021-22 he played in 64 more games before his streak of consecutive games played ended at a mind boggling 340 straight games.
It is hard to know where to start when describing Chad Costello’s impressive accomplishments with the Allen Americans. He played in Allen four seasons, led the league in scoring the first three and led the team in scoring this season. Chad was selected as the ECHL MVP in 2016 and 2017. He was selected as the ECHL MVP by the PHPA in 2015. He won two Kelly Cups, was the Kelly Cup MVP in 2016 and was a captain of the team his last three seasons.
|Chad lifts the Kelly Cup in 2016
As for Allen Americans team records, many of these will never be broken. Here is a list of where Chad stands in the all time and single season record book.
Allen Americans all-time career records:Points – Chad leads with 422 which is 51 more than second placeAssists – Chad leads with 298 which is 77 more than second place
Allen Americans single season records:Points – Chad is #1 (125), #2 (122) and #3 (103) in team history, no other player has more than 88 points.Assists – Chad is #1 (89), #2 (84) and #3 (79) in team history, no other player has more than 55 assists.
Here is my case for Chad Costello as the #1 player in ECHL history. It is important to put scoring in perspective when comparing numbers over time. In the 1990’s the style of the game was such that scoring was prolific. For example, in the 1996-97 season there were six fifty goals scorers and six players with over 100 points. In the history of the ECHL, 50 goals have been scored 41 times. All but two took place prior to 2000. There have been 12 times in ECHL history when a player has scored 120 or more points in a season. All but two of those seasons took place before 2000. The two exceptions are Chad Costello.
In my mind because of the prolific scoring in the 1990’s the only way to determine the best player is to compare players with their peers. In the 33 year history of the ECHL the scoring champion has won the scoring title by more than 20 points only six times. Here are the six seasons where the ECHL scoring champion had at least twenty more points than the runner up.
45 points – 2014-2015 (Chad Costello)43 points – 1992-1993 (Trevor Jobe)35 points – 1989-1990 (Bill McDougall)34 points – 2016-2017 (Chad Costello)24 points – 1995-1996 (Hugo Belanger)23 points – 2015-2016 (Chad Costello)
The stat above shows Chad is the most dominate point scorer relative to his peers of all time. Here are a few other stats to help make the case:
Chad is the only player in ECHL history to win the MVP Award more than once. He has three ECHL MVP awards, 2012 in Colorado, 2016 in Allen and 2017 in Allen. He should have also won the award in 2015 when he had his best season in Allen (125 points). He was selected as the MVP that season by the player’s association (PHPA).
Chad is the only player in ECHL history to win the scoring title three years in a row.
In his first three years in Allen, Costello had the #3, #5 and #12 best single seasons for assists in ECHL history. No other player is in the top 12 more than once. Only three players in ECHL history had more assists than the 89 Chad had in 2016-17 and they all played in the 1990’s.
Chad’s 1.50 career points per game average is the best in the history of the ECHL for players with a minimum of 375 ECHL games played.
Chad won the 2015 ECHL Sportsman Award given to the player adjudged in a vote by the ECHL coaches to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability.
Chad won two Kelly Cups in Allen and was the playoff MVP in 2016. He is all over the ECHL record book for playoff scoring. Here are a few examples of where Chad stood prior to the 2022 playoffs:
#1: Most assists one playoff year (29)#1: Most assists in final series (10)#2: Most points one playoff year (36)#3: Most assists in playoffs, career (61)#3: Most points in playoffs, career (83)#3: Most points in a final series (13)
Chad added to his resume by spending four seasons in Europe (Germany and Norway) after 2016-17 season before returning to Allen in 2021-22. The bottom line is if Chad Costello can be half as good as an ECHL coach as he was as an ECHL player he will be a huge success.