Ulf Samuelsson is the leading candidate to fill the Chicago Blackhawks’ assistant coach vacancy, reports Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. Chicago is looking to fill the job after firing Mike Kitchen on April 24.
Samuelsson, 53, is the current head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes’ American Hockey League affiliate, Charlotte Checkers. In his first season with the Checkers he guided Charlotte to a 39-29-7-1 record and a playoff berth. Charlotte took a 2-1 series lead but dropped back-to-back games to the Chicago Wolves, the Central Division’s top seed, on the road to crash out of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Prior to Charlotte, Samuelsson spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers, helping them reach the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and 2015 Eastern Conference Final. Before joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), posting an overall record of 38-15-16-41 and reaching the postseason both years.
Samuelsson was a former teammate of Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville with the Hartford Whalers. He played five seasons with Quenneville in the 1980s for the Whalers. He has experienced playoff success by winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
The Blackhawks’ current coaching staff includes Quenneville, assistant coach Kevin Dineen, and goaltending coach Jimmy Waite. Quenneville was reportedly upset with the firing of Kitchen last month, and Bowman said recently that the head coach would be involved in deciding who would fill the opening on the Hawks’ bench. Given the past relationship between Samuelsson and Quenneville, the two reuniting would make sense.