With Mike Kitchen relieved of his job as an assistant coach, the Florida Panthers had an opening on Joel Quenneville’s staff and filled it Monday by officially adding Ulf Samuelsson.
A veteran defenseman who played over 1,000 NHL games and was a two-time winner of the Stanley Cup with the Penguins, Samuelsson is reunited with Quenneville after being on Chicago’s bench from 2017-19.
Coincidentally, Samuelsson was added to Quenneville’s staff in 2017 after Chicago fired Kitchen against Quenneville’s will.
Samuelsson and Quenneville were both defensemen with the Hartford Whalers in the 1980s.
In 2019, when the Blackhawks fired Quenneville, they also fired assistants Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen as well. Those three had all been teammates with the Whalers.
Kitchen was let go in Florida following an incident Jan. 20 in Minnesota when he reportedly kicked a player on the bench after accidentally being hit with a water bottle.
Kitchen was allowed to coach the Panthers moving forward even though the incident had been reported to the league and he did finish the regular season behind the Florida bench.
Kitchen did not rejoin the Panthers in July citing health concerns over the pandemic and was fired in September.
According to Quenneville, Samuelsson will take over Kitchen’s duties coaching the Florida defense. Samuelsson is also expected to work with the power play.
Andrew Brunette had been working with the Panthers’ D but will return to working with the team’s forwards.
Derek MacKenzie remains on the Florida coaching staff and Quenneville said would continue to coach from the bench.
Late last season, MacKenzie moved down from his role as ‘eye in the sky’ to join the coaches behind the bench.
Samuelsson, 56, not only spent 16 seasons as a player, but has been coaching at the pro level the past 15 years.
The native of Fagersta, Sweden, was the head coach of Sweden’s Leksands IF last season and had recently taken a job as a scout with the Seattle Kraken.
Aside from coaching with the Blackhawks, Samuelsson has also been an NHL assistant coach with the Coyotes (2006-11) and Rangers (2013-16).
Samuelsson has also been head coach of Leksands, MODO (2011-13) and the AHL Charlotte Checkers (2016-17).
As a player, Samuelson played in 1,080 NHL games with Hartford (1984-91), Pittsburgh (1991-95), the Rangers (1996-99), Detroit (1999) and Philadelphia (1999-00), producing 332 points.