Two years after being heavily linked with the Carolina Hurricanes' head coaching position, Ulf Samuelsson is finally joining the organization. The team announced Tuesday that Samuelsson, 52, has been hired as the head coach of the Charlotte Checkers, replacing Mark Morris who resigned May 3 to become head coach at St. Lawrence University.
Samuelsson and Canes GM Ron Francis are longtime friends, and spent eleven seasons together with the Hartford Whalers and Pittsburgh Penguins, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Samuelsson was traded to the New York Rangers in the 1995 offseason, and spent time with the Red Wings and Flyers before retiring in 2000. (Trivia alert: Samuelsson was briefly an original member of the Atlanta Thrashers, when Detroit traded him there during the 1999 expansion draft. He never played with the Thrashers, signing a free agent deal with the Flyers before the 1999 season.)
This is Samuelsson's first head coaching job in North American professional hockey. He has spent a total of eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Coyotes and Rangers, and for two years was the head coach of Swedish club Modo. His son, Philip, was a second round draft pick of the Penguins before being traded to Arizona in 2015.
In a statement, Francis praised Samuelsson's pedigree of player development. "He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here."
The full release from the team is below.
ULF SAMUELSSON TO COACH CHARLOTTE CHECKERSLongtime NHL defenseman has 10 years of coaching experience
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has hired Ulf Samuelsson to serve as head coach of the team’s top minor-league affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).
"Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league," said Francis. "He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here."
Samuelsson, 52, has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers, helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and the conference final in 2015. Prior to joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), posting a record of 38-15-16-41 and reaching the playoffs both years. The Fagersta, Sweden, native served as associate coach for the Phoenix Coyotes from 2006-07 until 2010-11, helping to guide the Coyotes to a franchise-record 50 wins in 2009-10, and playing an important role in the development of defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle and Zbynek Michalek. Samuelsson began his professional coaching career in 2005-06, serving as assistant coach for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack.
A veteran of 16 NHL seasons, Samuelsson appeared in 1,080 career games as a player with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. Selected by the Whalers in the fourth round, 67th overall, in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, he totaled 57 goals and 275 assists (332 points), 2,453 penalty minutes and a plus-172 rating. He was a member of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup champion teams in 1991 and 1992, and appeared as an NHL All-Star during the Rendez-vous ’87 series against the Soviet National Team.