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Checkers announce hockey ops staff

Charlotte Checkers owner and CEO Michael Kahn announced today the team’s hockey operations staff heading into its inaugural American Hockey League season as the top affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jeff Daniels was named as head coach and general manager, Geordie Kinnear as assistant coach, Brian Maddox as head athletic trainer and Jason McGrath as head equipment manager. In addition, Derek Wilkinson has been named senior vice president of hockey business operations.

Daniels, 41, is entering his 13th season with the Carolina Hurricanes and third year as the head coach and general manager of the team’s AHL affiliate. In 2009-10, he led the Albany River Rats to a record of 43-29-3-5 (94 points) and a second-place finish in the East Division. Albany reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, where they fell to the eventual champion Hershey Bears.

Prior to his current position, Daniels spent four seasons with the Hurricanes as an assistant coach, helping guide the team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006.

Daniels was selected in the sixth round (109th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. In his 15-year professional playing career as a forward, Daniels spent time with Pittsburgh, Florida, Nashville and Carolina. In 425 NHL regular-season games, he scored 17 goals and 26 assists while adding three goals and five assists in 41 playoff games. The Oshawa, Ont., native also won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1992.

Kinnear, 36, is entering his eighth season as an assistant coach in the AHL and his fourth full season working for the Hurricanes. He began his coaching career when he joined the Albany River Rats’ coaching staff in August of 2001 after an eight-year professional playing career.

Kinnear was drafted by New Jersey in the seventh round (162nd overall) of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. He skated with Albany for the first six years of his career (1993-99), helping them reach the playoffs every year. Over that time, he was a member of Albany’s 1995 Calder Cup championship team, was selected to four consecutive AHL All-Star Classics (1995-99) and served as team captain for three seasons (1996-99).

Maddox begins his sixth season as head athletic trainer for the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate. He was the head athletic trainer for the Lowell Lock Monsters in 2005-06 before taking the same position with Albany from 2006-10. He also has AHL experience as a member of the medical staff for the Binghamton Senators during the 2003-04 season. Maddox graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology and from Villanova University with a Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies.

McGrath, 34, had been a member of Albany’s hockey operations staff since 1997-98, when he was hired as assistant equipment manager. He was promoted to head equipment manager in 1999 and held that position through 2009-10. In 2003, McGrath was promoted to the New Jersey Devils as assistant equipment manager for their playoff run and earned a Stanley Cup ring.

Wilkinson, 35, returns to the Checkers after eight seasons behind the bench in the ECHL. The winningest coach in ECHL Checkers history, Wilkinson compiled a record of 237-182-42 (.560) while guiding the team to the playoffs for the last six seasons. The former player was the first ever goaltender drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning (7th round, 145th overall, 1992) and appeared in 22 NHL games from 1995-99.

Wilkinson will oversee all hockey operations between the Hurricanes and Checkers, including but not limited to managing personnel, the club’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations and responsibilities and hockey operations budget.