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Norfolk Admirals President, Billy Johnson, receives Blake Cullen ECHL Executive of the Year Award

Billy Johnson, receives Blake Cullen Award

Words and Images Courtesy of the Norfolk Admirals

Billy Johnson, receives Blake Cullen Award

The ECHL announced today that Norfolk Admirals’ President Billy Johnson is the 2022-23 recipient of the ECHL Executive of the Year Award.

The award, which is determined in voting by the ECHL Board of Governors, is presented annually to the top executive in the League. In January, the award was renamed in honor of Blake Cullen, who was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009. Cullen founded the Hampton Roads Admirals in 1989 and owned the team for seven seasons through 1995-96.

Johnson joined the Admirals in November of 2021 after previous ECHL experience as President of the Las Vegas Wranglers from 2003-14.

During the 2022-23 season, he was instrumental in the Admirals hosting the 2023 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, which highlighted Norfolk to a national audience. The Admirals saw paid attendance during the season increase by 40% over the 2021-22 season. Additionally, the team had six of the top 10 places in all-time weekend (Friday and Saturday) gross ticket revenues since the team was formed in 1989, including its 15 seasons in the American Hockey League.

Johnson also introduced the team’s wildly successful marketing centerpiece, The City Series, which celebrated each of the seven Hampton Roads cities.

Blake Cullen ECHL Executive of the Year Award

2023 Billy Johnson, Norfolk Admirals

2022 Joel Lomurno, Wichita Thunder

2020 Eric Trapp, Idaho Steelheads

2019 Neil Neukam, Toledo Walleye

2018 Neil Neukam, Toledo Walleye and Bob Ohrablo, Jacksonville Icemen

2017 Brent Thiesssen, Kansas City Mavericks

2016 Kristin Ropp, Cincinnati Cyclones

2015 Joe Napoli, Toledo Walleye

2014 Matthew Riley, Bakersfield Condors

2013 Joe Napoli, Toledo Walleye

2012 Justin Kemp, Ontario Reign

2011 Dan Chapman, Stockton Thunder

2010 Kristin Ropp, Cincinnati Cyclones

2009 Gordon Kaye, Reading Royals

2008 Darren Abbott, South Carolina Stingrays

2007 Matthew Riley, Bakersfield Condors

2006 Steve Chapman, Gwinnett Gladiators

2005 Steve Chapman, Gwinnett Gladiators

2004 Terry Parks, Alaska Aces

2003 John Butler, Peoria Rivermen

2002 Matt Loughran, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies

2001 Craig Brush, Florida Everblades

2000 Brian McKenna, Trenton Titans

1999 Carl Scheer, Greenville Grrrowl

1998 Charles Felix, Pensacola Ice Pilots

1997 David Paitson, Columbus Chill

1996 Dave Berryman, Louisiana Ice Gators

1995 Harry Fuerstein/Craig Laughlin, Richmond Renegades

1994 John Gagon/Pierre Paiement, Roanoke Express

1993 Larry Kish, Wheeling Thunderbirds

About the ECHL

Formed in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 35th season in 2022-23. There have been 740 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 13 who have made their NHL debut in the 2022-23 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 28 of the 32 NHL teams in 2022-23, marking the 26th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

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