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Amerks’ Weber finds himself at home

by Warren Kosel || AHL On The Beat Archive

When the Rochester Americans took to the ice for the 2010-11 season, there was both a new and familiar look behind the Amerks bench at The Blue Cross Arena.

Surely, the pride and tradition of Amerks hockey will be portrayed through the 20 guys donning the red, white and blue each night, but with new head coach Chuck Weber at the helm, this once storied franchise is quickly on its way to reestablishing itself as an elite contender in the American Hockey League.

Weber’s appointment to the position marks his return to the AHL coaching scene for the first time since the 2002-03 season, but first as a head coach. He earned the promotion after he guided the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones to their second Kelly Cup championship in three years this past spring.

Weber becomes the 28th head coach in the 55-year history of the franchise and the first American-born bench boss in 14 years since John Tortorella led Rochester to its last Calder Cup in 1996. He was officially introduced to the Rochester media, fans and community at a press conference at The Blue Cross Arena on July 27, 2010.

“We are very pleased to have hired Chuck as our new head coach in Rochester,” said Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon. “He is a bright hockey mind who created a winning environment in Cincinnati over the last four seasons, leading his club to a pair of ECHL titles. Chuck is a high character and hard working coach who will do an excellent job developing and working with our top prospects in Rochester.”

Not having been on the job more than a few hours, Weber already felt at home with the Amerks. A native of nearby Lockport, N.Y., Weber has a special admiration for the Rochester organization, especially now with the opportunity to coach right in his own backyard.

“It’s exciting to be joining the Rochester Americans family,” said Weber after officially being introduced as the Amerks new head coach. “I grew up an hour from here and played against the Junior Amerks as a kid growing up. I know the city well and look forward to being a part of such a storied organization.”

Weber has made winning his top priority over the last four seasons, with a heavy emphasis on player development, something that he will emulate this season in Rochester. He also understands what it takes to be a successful coach at the AHL level and is confident the transition to the next tier is one he is certainly ready for.

“The Amerks have been a premier organization in the American Hockey League for as long as I can remember,” said Weber. “I want to return the Amerks to the glory days and I look forward to restoring the history here and putting a winning team on the ice.”

“Chuck is a winner,” added Panthers assistant general manager Mike Santos. “Chuck was been the winningest coach in professional hockey the last four years and we’re confident he can develop our prospects and a winning culture that will ultimately produce championships.”

Weber also knows the responsibility that comes with being a big-league coach and what it takes to mold his team into a successful, competitive and entertaining product on the ice. A western New Yorker himself, Weber knows how much winning is part of the Amerks organization and how important it is to continue that winning legacy into the league’s 75th anniversary season.

"It’s my job to return the Amerks to glory, where we’re playing deep into the spring," Weber said. "I understand the responsibility of being a head coach here."

Weber, 37, previously served as the vice president of hockey operations and head coach of the Cincinnati Cyclones for the last four years. He led his club to the ECHL conference finals in three of his four years at the helm, capturing the ECHL Kelly Cup title in 2008 and 2010. Weber was named ECHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08, after finishing second in voting in 2006-07.

Prior to joining the Cyclones, Weber served as an assistant coach and assistant director of hockey operations with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL). Weber began his coaching career during the 1999-2000 season as an assistant with the Orlando Solar Bears (IHL). In just his second season (2000-01) as an assistant coach, he was part of the Turner Cup championship team in the league’s final season. The following year (2001-2002), Weber was the assistant coach with Trenton (ECHL), and the Titans posted the ECHL’s second-best record (46-16-10). In 2002-03, Weber served as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). During his year with the Admirals, Weber helped direct the team to a 32-27-14-7 record.

Weber, a 1995 graduate of the University of Albany, majored in communications and had minors in athletic training and business. He was also a member of the Great Danes hockey program.

“I’ve always said that each period presents a new clean sheet, an opportunity for us to create a new chapter,” said Weber, “and we are going to do just that here in Rochester.”

The next chapter for the Amerks began when Weber led Rochester into the start of its 55th season earlier this month.

By the look of him, he’s already at home and ready to go.