Joel Quenneville and the Florida Panthers have hired a familiar face, bringing in Ulf Samuelsson as an assistant coach for the upcoming season. The longtime NHL defenseman was an assistant for Quenneville in Chicago during the 2018-19 season but was let go when the team made the switch to Jeremy Colliton. Earlier this year, Samuelsson had been hired as a scout by the Seattle Kraken and then as head coach of Leksands IF in the SHL, both roles that are now behind him as he moves to his new job in Florida.
Bill Zito, the Panthers’ new GM, released a short statement:
Ulf is a knowledgeable and experienced coach who will be a great addition to the Panthers. We are excited for him to join Joel’s coaching staff and look forward to his competitive mentality and the impact that he can have on our team.
Samuelsson, 56, first came to the NHL in 1984 as a player for the Hartford Whalers and has been involved in the league basically ever since. He played more than 1,000 games in the league, raising the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins, even scoring the Cup-winning goal in 1991. In 2006 he was hired for his first coaching job in the NHL, starting as an associate coach with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has served in a similar role with the Rangers and Blackhawks since, while also serving as head coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers for one season.
He will bring a huge wealth of knowledge to the Panthers, a group that has underperformed compared to expectations the last several years. Armed with top-end talents like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, and Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers should be competing for the playoffs. Unless you count the qualification round in this year’s bubble, they haven’t suited up for a playoff game since 2016 (when they lost in the first round). Zito is working hard to change that, with Samuelsson just being the latest in a long list of moves made by the organization this offseason.