Reports: Charlotte Checkers coach headed to Chicago

Ulf Samuelsson appears to be joining the Blackhawks as an assistant under former teammate Joel Quenneville

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Charlotte Checkers coach Ulf Samuelsson

RALEIGH — It’s looking like the Charlotte Checkers will have their fourth coach in four years.Several news outlets are reporting Ulf Samuelsson, who took over Carolina’s AHL affiliate last offseason and led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, will take an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks. Rumors of the move started last month.He would replace Mike Kitchen on coach Joel Quenneville’s staff. Kitchen, an NHL assistant coach since the early 1990s who was head coach in St. Louis for parts of three seasons, was fired as an assistant coach after seven years with the Blackhawks following the team’s elimination in the first round of the playoffs against Nashville. The Hurricanes did not respond to an email Wednesday asking if Samuelsson was departing.Samuelsson most recently coached in the NHL in 2015-16, one of three years he spent as an assistant with the New York Rangers before joining the Checkers after Mark Morris left for a college coaching job with St. Lawrence University. Morris was only in Charlotte for one year as well, having replaced longtime Hurricanes’ AHL coach Jeff Daniels. Daniels, a former Hurricanes assistant coach who was on Peter Laviolette’s staff when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2006, spent a combined seven seasons in Charlotte and Albany guiding Carolina’s top affiliate. He is now on of the team’s pro scouts.Samuelsson came to North Carolina after being offered the job by Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. The duo played together for 10 seasons in both Hartford and Pittsburgh, more than half of Samuelsson’s five-team, 16-season NHL career. Like Francis, Quenneville was a teammate of Samuelsson’s in the NHL, playing six seasons together with Francis and the Whalers in the 1980s.Samuelsson led Charlotte to a 39-29-8 record and a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs this season. The Checkers were eliminated in the fifth game of their five-game series by the Chicago Wolves. It was Samuelsson’s first head coaching job in North America. He was an AHL assistant back in Hartford in 2005-06 before joining the Phoenix Coyotes for five years as an associate coach under both Wayne Gretzky and Dave Tippett from 2006 until 2011. He then went back to his native Sweden as head coach of MODO in the Swedish Hockey League for two seasons before returning to North America as an assistant coach with the Rangers.