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SPECULATION: Ulf Samuelsson A Candidate For Hurricanes’ Head Coach? (UPDATED)

Update (5:06) –  TSN’s Bob McKenzie narrows in on Samuelsson as a potential leading candidate, though, to reiterate, this is his own speculation based on what’s he’s heard rather than an outright claim based on sources.


 Original Post: New Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis made his first major move of what is sure to be many this offseason, firing head coach Kirk Muller as well as multiple assistants. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Rangers’ assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson is one person who could be on Francis’ radar to fill the void.


Hurricanes’ beat writer Chip Alexander also mentioned Samuelsson as a potential candidate earlier today. It makes sense why Samuelsson would make sense as a potential candidate on at least a speculative level. Francis and Samuelsson were teammates on both the Hartford Whaler and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1985 until 1995, so the familiarity is there. Samuelsson also has a wealth of experience, with six years compiled as an assistant at the NHL level as well as two seasons as head coach of Modo Hockey, one of the most reputable teams in European hockey.

For the Rangers, it’s hard, at least from an outsider’s point of view, to quantify what a potential Samuelsson departure would mean. Samuelsson’s responsibilities mostly amount to the defense and the penalty kill. After finishing in the middle of the pack last year, this year’s penalty kill finished third overall in the NHL (85.3%). He receives high marks there. The defensive responsibility is more of a gray area. Staal, McDonagh, Girardi, and Stralman are a combination that has been successful for multiple years now and probably don’t need any tremendous guidance. McDonagh took a big step forward this year, but how much of that is coaching versus the natural progression of a young defenseman? John Moore and Michael Del Zotto were underwhelming and disappointing, though both have had their struggles and demons in the past well before Samuelsson ever touched them.

Those inside the locker room and in management will know far better than anyone else. Samuelsson doesn’t give the vibe of some irreplaceable commodity but has seemingly done a perfectly capable job in his first year on the job. There’s no apparent reason to not want him back next year. In any case, the Rangers are entrenched in a playoff battle and there’s no chance of Samuelsson going anywhere near this until the team’s season is over; whenever that may be. Still, Samuelsson does have a good resumé and the ethos connection with Francis. While McKenzie isn’t reporting Samuelsson’s involvement as fact, it comes off as far more than an just a random idea he came up with. This topic will probably be revisited in the summer.


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