I haven’t read an official release yet, so I’m sure more details will follow but here’s what I know about the Charlotte Checkers new coach, Ulf Samuelsson.
- He’s Swedish, and a former NHL defenseman. He had a 16-year playing career in the NHL.
- He won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. One of his teammates there happens to be a guy named Ron Francis, who is the GM of the Hurricanes and of course makes hiring and firing decisions for the Canes organization.
- He was also drafted by the Hartford Whalers, which is pretty awesome to see a coach come full circle like that!
- This is his first stint at a head coach in North America. He’s been coaching professional hockey since 2005 – a season with the Hartford Wolfpack, five seasons as an assistant with the Arizona Coyotes and three seasons in New York with the Rangers.
- He’s got two kids who grew up playing hockey, quite successfully, with the US National Team Development Program, so I’d guess he was coaching long before he first got a paycheck for it!
- Though there are (sadly) no more Staal’s playing for the Checkers, his coaching prodigy includes an elder Staal by the name of Marc when he was with AHL Hartford.
- The Arizona Coyotes are starting a Samuelsson collection. Both of Ulf’s sons are Coyotes. Phillip is a defenseman and Henrik is a right wing. Sister Victoria is playing NCAA D-1 hockey at Penn State.