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The Carolina Hurricanes’ Coaching Tree Keeps Growing

Eight former Hurricanes players are making a living in the coaching ranks years after their playing career ended. We take a look at how they got there.

Rod Brind’Amour is one of eight coaches across all levels of hockey who spent time playing for the Canes.
Jamie Kellner

Last week, former Hurricanes defenseman Bob Boughner was hired as head coach of the Florida Panthers. This job promotion, his first head-coaching position in the NHL, follows a successful two year assistant-coaching campaign for the San Jose Sharks that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a head coaching spot with the Windsor Spitfires from 2006-2015 where he won two Memorial Cups.

The Boughner hiring marks six NHL coaches - two head coaches and four assistants - who have previously donned the Hurricanes red and white, plus two additional head coaches in junior hockey. Most impressive about this statistic? All of them are employed by different teams, and only one is coaching here in Carolina. Can you guess who they all are?

(Honorable mention: J.D. Forrest, a sixth-round Hurricanes draft pick in the 2000 draft, never played a game for the club - his highest level of North American hockey was 35 games in the AHL - but he is entering his second season as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.)

Martin Gelinas (Calgary - assistant)

NHL: Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Gelinas joined the Hurricanes in the middle of the 1998-99 season, intended to bring a physical presence as well as secondary scoring to the lineup. He didn’t disappoint, supplying the Hurricanes with 24 points in 40 games on his way to a very impressive season in Carolina. Gelinas’ best campaign in a Carolina sweater was 2000-01 when he put up 23 goals and 52 points despite going unclaimed on waivers in the prior season.

Gelinas’ most memorable moment in Carolina was his overtime series ending goal in game 6 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals to send the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup appearance in franchise history.

At the conclusion of the 2001-02 season, Gelinas signed with the Calgary Flames in free agency. Just two seasons later, he reached the Stanley Cup finals again, losing to Tampa Bay in 7. He played in Florida, Nashville, and Switzerland before ultimately retiring in 2009. He was almost immediately hired as Nashville’s director of player development, extending the role of young player mentoring that he began in the late years of his playing career. He worked directly with players in the the Predators system, sometimes in the role of assistant coach.

This experience landed him an assistant coaching job on Bob Hartley’s bench, where he remained after Glen Gulutzan took over last season. Gelinas will be entering his 6th season with the Flames this October.

Kevin Dineen (Chicago - assistant)

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Dineen was drafted by the Hurricanes organization while still in Hartford, where he played nine seasons. He was named captain prior to the final season in Hartford, where he scored the last goal in Whalers history. Upon relocation to Carolina, Dineen served as captain in the inaugural season, then passed the captaincy to Keith Primeau while serving as an alternate captain in his final season with the organization.

Dineen went on to play one season with the Ottawa Senators before being selected in the 2000 Expansion Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he spent the final three years of his career. Dineen’s number 11 was honored in 2006 by the Hartford Wolf Pack alongside his fellow Whalers teammates Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson.

Dineen’s long coaching history started in Portland coaching the former Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate Portland Pirates. After 10 successful seasons in Portland compiling a coaching record of 266-155, he was hired by the Florida Panthers as head coach in 2011. In his first season, Dineen led the team to their first Southeast Division title in franchise history.

Dineen was ultimately fired in November of 2013 after a disappointing start to the season. Less than a month later, he was named head coach of Team Canada’s Women’s National Team, who he led to a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Sochi. Later that winter, Dineen was named head coach of the Canadien Men’s U-18 Team for the 2014 IIHF World U-18 Championships where he brought home the bronze.

In July of 2014, Dineen was named an assistant on former Whalers teammate Joel Quenneville’s bench for the Chicago Blackhawks. Dineen won his first Stanley Cup coaching for the Blackhawks in 2015. He will be entering his fourth season as an assistant this year, alongside new addition and former Whalers teammate Ulf Samuelsson.

Nolan Pratt (Colorado - assistant)

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nolan Pratt was drafted by the Hurricanes organization in 1993. He would only play nine games in a Whalers jersey, which came in the final 1996-97 season. Moving with the franchise to Carolina, he played parts of three seasons between 1997 and 2000 for the Hurricanes, before being traded to the Avalanche in the summer of 2000. Spending only one season in Colorado, it was a productive one, as he got his name on the Stanley Cup after winning the 2001 championship.

He was traded in the summer of 2001 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he played five seasons, winning his second Stanley Cup in 2004. He played for Tampa Bay until becoming a free agent after the 2006-07 season. Signing with the Buffalo Sabres in November of 2007, he played 55 games in a Sabres sweater to wrap up his NHL playing career. A brief stint in European hockey was followed by his retirement and the beginning of his coaching career.

Pratt was hired as an assistant coach in 2011 by the Springfield Falcons, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate at the time. He remained with the Jackets organization through 2016, moving with the affiliation to the Lake Erie Monsters in 2015 where he helped them win the 2016 Calder Cup.

In July of 2016, Pratt was hired by one of his former clubs, the Colorado Avalanche. He is entering his second season as an NHL assistant coach under Jared Bednar, who he worked with at Lake Erie and Springfield.

Cory Stillman (Sudbury Wolves - Head Coach)

Cory Stillman was drafted in 1992 by the Calgary Flames. He played seven seasons in Alberta before being traded to the St. Louis Blues during the 2000-01 season. At the 2003 Entry Draft, Stillman was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The following season, Stillman helped the Lightning to his first of two Stanley Cup wins, scoring 25 goals and 80 points, and 7 additional points during the playoffs.

During free agency after the 2004-05 lockout season, Stillman signed a three year deal with Carolina. He would play a pivotal role in Carolina’s Stanley Cup run in 2006, compiling 25 points in 23 playoff games. In February of the 2007-08 season, Stillman was traded along with Mike Commodore to the Ottawa Senators. In free agency that year, he signed with the Panthers, where he would play until being traded back to Carolina in 2011. He played his final games in Carolina, retiring in September of 2011.

Stillman joined the Panthers’ player development staff after retiring. A year later, he would take a job in player development, focusing on forwards, with the Hurricanes. On May 25th Stillman took over as head coach of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.

Rod Brind'Amour (Carolina - assistant)

Jamie Kellner

Hurricanes legend Rod Brind’Amour was drafted ninth overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1988 entry draft. He would play the following season at Michigan State University. He made a successful transition into the NHL in the 1989 season, scoring 26 goals and 61 points. After just his second season in St. Louis, Brindy was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he is honored in their Hall of Fame. He played nine seasons in the Flyers orange between 1991 and 2000 before being traded to Carolina in exchange for Keith Primeau.

This is a section of Brind’Amour history you likely know. He made himself immediately useful on the Hurricanes, becoming a mainstay and contributing to the 2002 Stanley Cup finals run. He was named captain of the Hurricanes prior to the 2005-06 season and led the team to a Stanley Cup victory. His leadership as captain of the Hurricanes was unparalleled. Signing a contract extension after the season, he remained captain of the franchise until 2010. His playing career came to an end when he retired at the conclusion of the regular season, and his number 17 hangs in the rafters in PNC Arena.

Upon retirement, he was immediately given a position in management as the director of forwards development. Just one summer later, The Captain became an assistant coach, while still maintaining his role in forward development. Brind’Amour will be entering his 7th season behind the Hurricanes’ bench.

Doug Weight (Islanders - HC)

NHL: New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Weight was drafted in the second round of the 1990 NHL entry draft by the New York Rangers. Weight notably played in the Compuware youth hockey association, which established his connection with Hurricanes owner and former Compuware CEO Peter Karmanos early in his hockey days. Weight had built a long, successful career between the Rangers, Blues, and Oilers before being traded to Carolina in the middle of the 2005-06 season as a playoff rental.

Weight was a great addition to the team, providing more offensive depth while tallying 16 points in 23 games in the playoffs. In game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Weight took a hard hit from two Oilers players and sustained a separated shoulder that would keep him out of the remainder of the series. Nonetheless, Weight was a Stanley Cup champion.

At the conclusion of the season, Weight returned to the Blues in free agency, where he spent two seasons before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. After a short playoff series in 2008, he signed three consecutive one-year deals with the Islanders, ultimately retiring after the 2011 season ranking fifth all time in points registered by an American player.

He was immediately given an assistant coaching job on then-head coach Jack Capuano’s bench. In January of this year, Capuano was fired and Weight was promoted to interim coach, which was made a permanent appointment after a very impressive second half of the season that almost resulted in a playoff berth. The Stanley Cup champion will begin his first full season as head coach in October.

Bob Boughner (Florida - HC)

NHL: Preseason-Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Boughner was drafted in the second round of the NHL entry draft by the Detroit Red Wings, but he would never play a game in a Red Wings jersey. He signed with the Florida Panthers in 1994 and spent his time in the IHL and the AHL. He was traded to the Sabres in February of 1996, then was immediately promoted to the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Moving to the Predators in the 1998 Expansion Draft, he played in Nashvillefor the better part of two seasons before being traded to the Penguins in March of 2000 where he scored the game winning goal in his debut. Boughner played the next season with the Penguins before signing with the Flames in the summer of 2001. He had an offensively productive season in 2002-03 with the Flames, scoring 3 goals and 17 points.

He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2003, where he would play an incomplete season before being traded to the Avalanche in February of 2004. He recorded 4 assists in 43 games with Carolina, and played the remainder of the season with the Avalanche. He returned to the Avs for one season after the 2005 lockout, retiring at the end of the 2006 season.

In the winter of 2006, Boughner led a group in purchasing the Windsor Spitfires. He served as the head coach of the team every year except the 2010-11 season, which he spent on the Blue Jackets’ bench as an assistant. He had great success in junior hockey, coaching the Spitfires to their first OHL championship in 21 years in 2009, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 2009 and 2010, and also coaching the Canadian U-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament to a gold medal in 2009.

He was hired as an assistant coach to Peter DeBoer with the San Jose Sharks prior to the 2015-16 season, where he helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. He was hired by the Panthers on June 12th, and Boughner will make his NHL coaching debut next fall.

Trevor Letowski (Windsor - HC)

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A Western Conference journeyman for most of his career, Letowski was a seventh-round pick of the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the 1996 NHL Draft. He spent parts of four seasons in the desert, heading to the Canucks with Todd Warriner and Tyler Bouck in exchange for Drake Berehowsky and Denis Pederson (now there’s an all-star lineup) in December of 2001.

He sent a career high with 36 points in his only full season in Vancouver, signing with the Blue Jackets in the 2003 offseason. Letowski spent two seasons with Columbus, split by the lockout, before signing with the Hurricanes in the 2006 offseason. Two additional seasons with Carolina, where he totaled eleven goals and 48 points, were his last in the NHL. He spent two more seasons in the KHL before retiring in 2010.

Letowski returned to his former junior club, the Sarnia Sting, as an assistant coach from 2010 to 2013, serving as interim head coach for 18 games at the end of the 2010-11 season. He was promoted to permanent head coach in 2013, leading the club for two years before he was replaced by Sting owner Derian Hatcher in 2015. He then joined the Windsor Spitfires as an associate coach, earning a promotion last week to the head job beginning next season.