San Jose, CA – The American Hockey League (AHL) announced today that long-time San Jose Barracuda Executive and Governor Jon Gustafson has been recognized as the 2020-21 recipient of the Thomas Ebright Award. This honor, presented annually since 1997, recognizes outstanding career contributions to the AHL, and is named for Thomas Ebright, the former owner of the Portland Pirates and Baltimore Skipjacks, who was a key contributor in the shaping of the AHL.
Gustafson’s relationship with the AHL dates back to his tenure as a goaltender with the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 1992-93.
Over the next three-plus decades, his involvement in the AHL would grow exponentially. After being named vice president of the Worcester Sharks in 2013-14, Gustafson transitioned to be the franchise’s representative on the AHL’s Board of Governors. In 2017, he joined the AHL’s Executive Committee and, in 2019, was voted Chair of the AHL Executive Committee.
In 2015, Gustafson’s leadership helped guide the birth of the AHL’s Pacific Division, which saw five teams relocate from the East Coast to California, including the Worcester franchise to San Jose as the Barracuda.
During his tenure on the AHL Executive Committee, the league’s accomplishments have included multiple expansion franchises, significant growth in revenue, and schedule unification. As Chair of the Executive Committee, Gustafson helped the AHL successfully transition to a new President and CEO, following 26 seasons under President and CEO Dave Andrews.
In his 20-plus year tenure as an executive within the San Jose Sharks organization, Gustafson has overseen a dramatic growth of the game of hockey in the Bay Area. This tremendous growth (three Sharks Ice facilities in the Bay Area – Oakland, Fremont and San Jose) is highlighted by the vision and planning behind the multiple expansions of the Sharks Ice at San Jose facility – from a two-rink complex, to four sheets, to most recently, a six-rink complex featuring the state-of-the-art, 4,500 seat Barracuda Arena set to open for the 2022-23 season. When completed, Sharks Ice at San Jose will be the largest ice facility in North America at over 400,000 sq ft.
Gustafson’s long-standing commitment to youth and amateur hockey has also produced remarkable results.
In 2000, Gustafson oversaw the formal launch of the San Jose Jr. Sharks program that has produced two National Championships. In 2013, the Jr. Sharks were named as a USA Hockey Model Program, one of only a handful of programs in the U.S. to receive the honor.
Gustafson, who serves on the board of directors for USA Hockey, works closely with organizations such as USA Hockey, USHL, NAHL, ISI and USF to bring national and world hockey events to San Jose.
In 2009, Gustafson was named the International Ice Skating Institute’s “Facility Operator of the Year."