Rangers hire Grant Potulny as new Wolf Pack coach

Grant Potulny

Grant Potulny was hired by the New York Rangers on Thursday to be the next head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.

Potulny recently resigned as coach of Northern Michigan University to pursue professional hockey opportunities after he was 128-113-17 in seven seasons. NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman had reported that Potulny was the likely choice to land the Wolf Pack job.

At NMU, Potulny had four 20-win seasons after spending eight seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, which won six regular-season titles and made five NCAA tournament appearances.

Last season, NMU finished 12-16-6.

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Rangers hire Grant Potulny to replace interim coach Steve Smith with Wolf Pack

Potulny, 44, will become the second consecutive younger coach to step into his first professional head coaching job with the Wolf Pack. Kris Knoblauch, who led to the Edmonton Oilers to Game 7 of the recently completed Stanley Cup Final, took the job before the 2019-20 season and was 112-87-31 with one playoff appearance with the Wolf Pack. He left Hartford in November when hired by the Oilers.

Steve Smith took over on an interim basis when Knoblauch moved on to the NHL. Smith led the Wolf Pack to the Atlantic Division Final, where they were swept by the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears.

A North Dakota native, Potulny also served on Team USA’s coaching staff in numerous international tournaments. He was an assistant for the World Junior Championship in 2013, 2017, 2018, 2022, helping Team USA win gold medals in 2013 and 2017 and a bronze medal in 2018.

Potulny played six seasons in the AHL after being selected No. 157 overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2000 NHL Draft. A forward, Potulny totaled 145 points (73 goals, 72 assists) in 290 AHL games.

He is the eighth head coach in Wolf Pack history.

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