Penguins name Vellucci new head coach in WBS

Photo: Gregg Forwerck

The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Mike Vellucci head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Vellucci replaces Clark Donatelli, who resigned from his duties as Penguins head coach on Thursday due to personal reasons. Assistant coaches Jarrod Skalde and J.D. Forrest will remain with the team in their current roles.

Vellucci, who had stepped down as head coach of the Charlotte Checkers and assistant general manager/director of hockey operations of the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the day, won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2018-19, leading Charlotte to the best regular-season record in the league and later a Calder Cup championship. The Checkers’ 51-17-7-1 record (.724) was the 10th-best in AHL history, and the team led the league in penalty killing while ranking second in goals allowed and fifth in goals scored.

Vellucci was instrumental in developing prospects for the Hurricanes, who reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018-19 for the first time in a decade; 13 different Checkers players earned recalls to Carolina during the season.

In his two seasons with Charlotte, Vellucci guided the team to a record of 97-43-8-4. The Checkers reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs in 2018 before winning the title in 2019.

Donatelli had a record of 154-94-20-9 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, guiding the Penguins to three Calder Cup Playoff appearances and a regular-season league title in 2016-17.