Paetsch, Prospal named assistant coaches with Amerks

Nathan Paetsch and Vaclav Prospal have been named assistant coaches for the Rochester Americans, joining the staff of Amerks head coach Seth Appert.

Paetsch moves behind the bench after spending the last two seasons as a development coach for the Buffalo Sabres. In that role, he worked closely with the organization’s top defensive prospects, both in Buffalo and Rochester, playing a key role in their overall development process.

Paetsch retired in 2020 after 17 seasons as a pro defenseman, including 651 regular-season games in the AHL with Rochester (2003-06, 2010-11, 2017-20), Syracuse (2010-11) and Grand Rapids (2012-17). He totaled 52 goals and 207 assists for 259 points with a plus/minus rating of plus-102, and was an AHL All-Star in 2006.

Paetsch also skated in 104 postseason games, winning two Calder Cups with Grand Rapids — as an alternate captain in 2013 and as team captain in 2017.

The native of LeRoy, Sask., was also a four-time recipient of his team’s IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for community service, earning the honor in Grand Rapids in 2017 and in Rochester in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

A seventh-round choice by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Draft, Paetsch played 167 regular-season games in the NHL with the Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets, recording seven goals and 35 assists for 42 points. He appeared in one Stanley Cup Playoff game as well, drawing into the lineup for the Sabres in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at Carolina on June 1, 2006.

Prospal joins the Amerks after coaching in his native Czechia, most recently three seasons with HC Ceske Budejovice. He won back-to-back league titles in the second-tier Chance Liga in 2019 and 2020, and was named the Czech Extraliga’s coach of the year in 2020-21.

Prospal’s coaching experience also features two years as an assistant coach with the Czech national team, including appearances at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and the Olympics in 2018.

At 18 years old, Prospal made his professional debut with the Hershey Bears in 1993 and spent four seasons in the AHL with Hershey and Philadelphia, amassing 226 points in 255 games. He was voted a First Team AHL All-Star in 1996-97.

In the NHL, Prospal played 1,108 games with Philadelphia, Ottawa, Florida, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Philadelphia, the N.Y. Rangers and Columbus. He was a five-time 20-goal scorer, totaling 255 goals and 510 assists for 765 points.

Internationally, Prospal won the gold medal twice at the IIHF World Championship (2000, 2005), and captured an Olympic bronze medal in Turin in 2006.