Update 6/15/17: It took long enough, but it’s finally official:
Ulf Samuelsson and Don Granato have been hired as assistant coaches and added to Joel Quenneville's coaching staff. pic.twitter.com/tRkBRZGxXR— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 15, 2017
Update 6/7/17: The Checkers will indeed need a new coach. Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports, who covered Ulf Samuelsson when he was a Coyotes assistant coach, said this morning on Twitter that the Blackhawks do plan to hire Samuelsson to be an assistant to Joel Quenneville. An official announcement is forthcoming. The Checkers are now looking for their fourth coach in as many years.
Source: Blackhawks will name Ulf Samuelsson asst. coach to fill Mike Kitchen's spot. Ulf was coaching Charlotte, Carolina's AHL affiliate.— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) June 7, 2017
Our original story from May 22 is below. -Brian
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman pledged change to ‘Hawks fans after the Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators. Unfortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes organization, change may come in the form of Charlotte Checkers head coach Ulf Samuelsson.
Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune has reported that Samuelsson may be the leading candidate for the vacant assistant coach position with the Chicago Blackhawks. The position is open after Mike Kitchen was let go after the conclusion of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup playoff run, which ended in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Nashville Predators. Kitchen had been with the team since the 2010-11 season.
The Checkers referred a request for comment to the Hurricanes, who did not respond.
A possible Samuelsson departure would be devastating for a Checkers team that jelled well with their first-year head coach. After a rough start to the season, Samuelsson guided the team to its first playoff appearance since the 2012-13 season. Samuelsson posted a 39-29-8 regular season record and was able to force a five game series against the top-seeded Chicago Wolves before losing the matchup.
Should Samuelsson leave, the Checkers will start next season with their fourth coach in as many seasons. Jeff Daniels was reassigned to scouting duties after the 2014-15 season, and Mark Morris’ tenure in Charlotte ended when he returned to coach his alma mater, St. Lawrence University, last summer.
It’s no surprise Samuelsson’s name is in the rumor mill given his history coaching in the National Hockey League. The retired defenseman was an assistant coach of the then-Phoenix Coyotes for five seasons before becoming assistant coach for three successful seasons with the New York Rangers.
Most coaches may pad their resume in the American Hockey League before making the jump to the NHL and Samuelsson surely has proven his worth as an NHL and AHL coach. For the Checkers’ sake and selfish reasons, hopefully Samuelsson doesn’t make the jump again.