Buchberger named new Falcons head coach

The Springfield Falcons, proud members of the American Hockey League, announced today that the Edmonton Oilers have named Kelly Buchberger as head coach of the Falcons.

Buchberger replaces Geoff Ward, who resigned his post as head coach of the Falcons to accept the role of an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

“This is a great opportunity for Kelly,” stated Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe. “Kelly has worked with many of the young players in our organization and has been invaluable in their development as professionals.”

This will be the first head coaching position for Buchberger, a veteran of 18 National Hockey League seasons, including 13 seasons with the Oilers. He previously served as an assistant coach to Ward with the AHL’s Edmonton Road Runners in 2004-05.

The 40-year-old native of Langenburg, Sask., is very familiar with many of the players he will be coaching in Springfield in the upcoming season, having worked with Edmonton’s young prospects in the professional ranks as well as junior and college players in his role as the Oilers’ development coach during the 2006-07 season. Buchberger will team with new assistant coach Jeff Truitt to guide the Falcons in their first season as the top development club for the Oilers.

During his 18 NHL seasons, Buchberger played 1,182 regular-season games in a career that began during the 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Oilers and concluded in 2003-04 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored 309 points with 105 goals and 204 assists, while registering 2,297 penalty minutes with Edmonton, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Pittsburgh. He added 25 points (10g, 15a) with 129 penalty minutes in 97 playoff games, and was a member of the Oilers’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 1987 and 1990.

After making his NHL debut with the Oilers during the first three games of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final vs. Philadelphia, Buchberger would go on to play 795 regular-season games in Edmonton before being claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL expansion draft in 1999. He ranks 15th on the Oilers’ all-time scoring list with 240 points and is the team’s career leader in penalty minutes with 1,747. Buchberger was named the Oilers ninth captain in 1995-96 and served in that capacity for four seasons.

Buchberger spent his two professional seasons as a player with the AHL’s Nova Scotia Oilers, recording 33 goals and 43 assists for 76 points, along with 463 penalty minutes, in 119 games.