Vellucci named head coach in Charlotte

(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes have named Mike Vellucci as head coach of the Charlotte Checkers.

Vellucci replaces Ulf Samuelsson, who the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks today hired as an assistant coach.

Vellucci, 50, is in his fourth season as the Hurricanes’ assistant general manager, where he oversees scouting and player development. He will continue to serve in that role while coaching the Checkers.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with this hire,” said Checkers owner Michael Kahn. “Mike’s familiarity with our organization will bring both continuity and stability to our quest for the Calder Cup.”

“Mike has more than 20 years of coaching experience, including more than 800 games as a head coach in the Ontario League,” said Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis. “He is excited to get back behind the bench and we appreciate his willingness to take on this additional responsibility.”

Prior to joining the Hurricanes, Vellucci, a native of Farmington, Mich., spent 14 seasons at the junior level with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, primarily as the team’s head coach and general manager. With the Whalers, he guided the team to a cumulative record of 468-322-36 and won the Matt Leyden Trophy as OHL Coach of the Year during a 2006-07 OHL championship season and again in 2012-13. He also captured the OHL Executive of the Year award in 2012-13, making him the first to receive both honors in the same season.

Before his time with the Whalers, Vellucci was with Detroit Compuware of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), where his teams went 241-82-27 in the regular season from 1994-99, and captured U.S. national championships in 1994 and 1999. The Ambassadors also captured two NAHL regular-season titles and four Robertson Cups.

Vellucci played professionally from 1986-89, including 40 games in the AHL with the Binghamton Whalers. He also spent time with the Milwaukee Admirals when they were members of the IHL in 1987-88.

Vellucci becomes the fourth head coach in the Checkers’ AHL history, following Jeff Daniels (2010-15), Mark Morris (2015-16) and Samuelsson (2016-17).