“I don’t know if I’d still be in hockey if I didn’t go to Johnstown the year that I went,” Gordon said during an April interview. “That rejuvenated my career. I kept playing. If I don’t go down there and play and get some confidence and develop my style, I certainly don’t go on and play the next year. At the end of the day I was in the NHL and that changed everything.”
Gordon went 18-9-3 for the Chiefs during the inaugural season in the five-team East Coast Hockey League. He became the first ECHL “graduate” to advance to the NHL as a player. Gordon joined the Quebec Nordiques on Jan. 30, 1990.
He played on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team and returned to the ECHL with Nashville (1992-93) and Knoxville (1993-94). Gordon took over as head coach of the former Roanoke Express during the 1998-99 ECHL season.
Gordon is the third former ECHL coach who is currently an NHL head coach. Former Johnstown Jets player Bruce Boudreau (Washington Capitals) and Peter Laviolette (Carolina Hurricanes) are the others. Boudreau, the reigning NHL Coach of the Year, led the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves to a Kelly Cup. Laviolette, a Stanley Cup winner with the ’Canes, coached the Wheeling Nailers.