The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League on Thursday named Jim Paek as the team’s assistant coach. He will serve alongside head coach Greg Ireland as the Griffins prepare to open their 10th-anniversary season on Oct. 8.
Paek, 38, won consecutive Stanley Cup championships as a defenseman with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. During five seasons in the NHL, he tallied 34 points and 155 penalty minutes in 217 games with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Ottawa.
“Winning breeds winning, and that’s the culture we want to continue to foster,” said Ireland. “Jim’s strong communication skills and knowledge of playing the position of defense will go a long way towards doing that.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Paek became the first Korean to both play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. In recognition of those accomplishments, Paek’s Penguins jersey is displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
While in Pittsburgh, he was named the team’s 1992 rookie of the year and was the co-winner of its 1993 community service award.
Traded to Los Angeles on Feb. 16, 1994, Paek had the distinction of counting both Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky as teammates. During his 16-year playing career, he also learned from some of hockey’s most accomplished coaches, including the legendary Scotty Bowman and Bob Johnson.
In addition to his two Stanley Cup titles, Paek won two IHL Turner Cup championships with Muskegon (1989) and Houston (1999).
Last season, he returned home to Cleveland and served as an assistant coach for the St. Edwards High School team that won the Ohio state championship, and co-coach of the Cleveland Panthers bantam minor squad that captured the Eastern Elite Amateur Hockey League title.
“I know what a great organization Grand Rapids is,” said Paek. “The Griffins’ reputation, ownership and affiliation with Detroit were all attractive to me. They have a winning tradition, a passion for the game, and they want to win. You couldn’t ask for a better organization.”