The Carolina Hurricanes announced on Tuesday that they have hired former New York Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson to coach their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
The news comes just a few weeks after the sudden departure of Mark Morris, who had coached the club for one season prior to taking a head coaching position at St. Lawrence University.
Ron Francis’ Take
Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis explained why this was the right move in the official team release:
“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 Is the Perfect Fit
A long time friend and former teammate of Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson is the perfect pick to lead Carolina’s young players at the AHL level.
Samuelsson was a no-nonsense player for over a decade in the NHL, and that philosophy has carried over to his coaching career. Being a former defenseman, he enforces a very responsible style of play, playing from the defensive zone out. Think a mix of Rod Brind’Amour and Bill Peters. He has the grit and tenacity of a Brind’Amour and a defense first attitude like Peters.
The key word in Francis’ quote above is “culture”. Samuelsson knows the culture that the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to build. He has character and experience. He’s a guy who can teach young players how to be a Hurricane and do things the right way.
His role will be to properly develop the organization’s young talent, and he will have a lot of it. New players entering the league need someone to hep guide them along the way and show them some tough love when it is warranted. Samuelsson will be the perfect man to do it. He knows what it is like to enter the league at a young age, and his fierce personality should be able to motivate the players to play up to their potential.
Ultimately, this should serve as a short-term landing spot for Samuelsson, who is undoubtedly looking to become a head coach in the NHL sooner rather than later. Despite serving as a head coach and being successful in the SHL, he needs head coaching experience in North America in order to be a legitimate candidate for an NHL job.
That being said, the Carolina Hurricanes should be happy with what they got in the situation they were in. They had to scramble to find a replacement for Mark Morris, and they ended up landing a former big-time NHL defenseman with loads of both assistant and head coaching experience.
His style of coaching should work well with young players like Haydn Fleury, Sergei Tolchinsky, Andrew Poturalski, and Trevor Carrick amongst many others coming through Charlotte next season. The Checkers will be in very good hands during the 2016-2017 season, and Samuelsson’s similarities to Bill Peters should make the transition from the AHL to the NHL much less difficult for the players.
Next season will be important for the Checkers as they look to rebound from a late-season collapse which dropped them out of AHL playoff contention. They were a victim to a number of key players earning NHL promotions down the stretch of the regular season.
A coach can’t always control who and who is not called up to the big club, so having a guy who can keep things rolling, even without his most important players in the lineup, can make a huge difference. The Carolina Hurricanes will hope that Samuelsson can be that guy.