The Portland Pirates announced today that the Buffalo Sabres have re-signed head coach Kevin Dineen and assistant coach Eric Weinrich for the 2010-11 American Hockey League season.
“We are delighted to have Kevin and Eric returning to coach the Portland Pirates,” said Sabres general manager Darcy Regier. “They have done an excellent job in respect to our young players and their development within the organization. As we continue to grow our young prospects, we are confident their success in the National Hockey League can be attributed to their time spent with such quality individuals that we have in place in Portland.”
“We are thrilled to have both Kevin and Eric behind the Pirates bench for another season,” said Pirates managing owner/CEO Brian Petrovek. “Within the hockey world, Kevin has developed into and now become one of the top pro coaches in the business and he has proven by his outstanding coaching record and by the young players he has developed that he is as talented as they get in his profession. The passion, intensity and work ethic that Kevin brings to the rink every day elicits the very best out of the Buffalo Sabres prospects and our fans have certainly experienced with great appreciation the exciting, high energy and no-nonsense style of play he puts on the ice every game.
“Eric’s impact as an Assistant Coach with the Pirates has been outstanding. He has been able to translate the successes he enjoyed as a world class blueliner into an ability to communicate with our young players and help develop them with his knowledge and experience. He and Kevin have developed a great approach together. Their preparation, teamwork and camaraderie have been paramount to our success.”
Dineen, named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2005-06, is heading into his sixth season as the head coach of the Pirates. The 46-year-old is the longest tenured head coach in Pirates franchise history and stands as the franchise leader in games coached (400), wins (219) and winning percentage (.581) with a 219-154-27 career record.
The Quebec City, Que., native guided the Pirates to a second place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2009-10 with a record of 45-24-7-4. Last season marked the third time in five seasons that Dineen led the Pirates to a season featuring 45 or more victories. He has also led the Pirates to two Eastern Conference Finals, coming within one win of the Calder Cup Finals each time.
“I am very excited to back as part of the Buffalo Sabres organization,” Dineen said. “My family and I are thrilled to return to Portland for a sixth season as we continue our effort of reaching our goal to win a Calder Cup Championship for the great fans of Portland.”
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Dineen, who was selected 56th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, spent 18 years in the NHL as a player from 1984-85 to 2002-03. He scored 355 goals and 405 assists for 760 points and 2,229 penalty minutes in 1,188 games with Columbus, Ottawa, Hartford/Carolina and Philadelphia. Dineen appeared in two NHL All-Star Games as a member of the Whalers (1988 and 1989). He was also named the 1990-91 NHL Man of the Year and was a three-time finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (1995, 2001 and 2002), given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Dineen also represented Canada on many occasions, playing on the country’s national team at the 1984 Olympic Games, 1987 Canada Cup and three World Championship Tournaments (1985, 1989 and 1993). At the time of his retirement he was one of only eight NHL players to record more than 300 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes in an NHL career.
After retiring as a player, Dineen spent two seasons working in the Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Operations Department in player development.
Dineen and his wife, Annie, are the parents of two daughters (Hannah and Emma) and two sons (William and Declan).
2010-11 will mark Weinrich’s third full season as an assistant coach under Dineen. He also started the 2006-07 season as an assistant on Dineen’s coaching staff but chose to step back onto the ice and resume his playing career with the Pirates.
“I expressed to Darcy (Regier) that I really enjoyed being part of the organization and was hoping that they would consider resigning me and he said they would be happy to have me back,” Weinrich said.
“I’ve been associated with Kevin in one way or another for the past four seasons and I look forward to working with him again and learning all I can from his experience and leadership of the team.”
Weinrich was originally selected 32nd overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He played 18 seasons at the NHL level with Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Vancouver. Weinrich finished his NHL career playing in 1,157 games with 388 points (70 goals, 318 assists) and 825 penalty minutes. He ended his playing career with the Portland Pirates in the 2007-08 season, after playing in 88 games spanning over two seasons and recording 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists). Throughout the course of his career, the 43 year-old participated in nine World Championships for Team USA – the most of any American-born player. He also played in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, the 1991 Canada Cup and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s great to have Eric back as part of my staff,” said Dineen. “He brings a wealth of NHL and AHL experience and does a great job mentoring our young defensemen.”
Weinrich’s professional career began in the AHL with the Utica Devils in 1988-89 and 1989-90. In 1989-90, he was named the winner of the Eddie Shore Trophy (AHL’s outstanding defenseman) and also was named an AHL First Team All-Star. Prior to entering the pro ranks, Weinrich spent three seasons at the University of Maine (1985-88) where he registered 69 points (16 goals, 54 assists) in 83 games over three seasons with the Black Bears. In 1987, he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star and also earned NCAA East Second Team All-American honors.
Weinrich, his wife Tracy and two children, Ben and Emily, live on Cousins Island in Yarmouth.