Wolf Pack could be close to hiring former NCAA coach: report

Grant Potulny

The Hartford Wolf Pack may be close to hiring a new coach for the 2024-25 season. Several reports indicate that Grant Potulny, who recently resigned as coach at Northern Michigan University, will join the New York Rangers organization to coach their American hockey affiliate.

“I heard Potulny is going to Hartford,” NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said on his latest 32 Thoughts podcast.

Speculation that Potulny will end up with the Wolf Pack grew on Wednesday when Kirk MacDonald landed the coaching job with Scranton-Wilkes Barre after Potulny had also been rumored to be in consideration for that position.

Potulny stepped down recently after seven seasons as Northern Michigan coach, citing an interest in pursuing a position in professional hockey. He was 128-113-17 with the Wildcats, including four 20+-win seasons.

NMU was 12-16-6 this past season under Potulny, who previously was an assistant at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

The 44-year-old native of North Dakota also was an assistant four times for the United States at the World Junior Championships, helping them capture the gold medal in 2013 and 2017 and a bronze in 2018.

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If the Rangers do hire Potulny, it would be the second consecutive younger coach stepping into his first professional head coaching job with the Wolf Pack. Kris Knoblauch had been a head coach for two teams in junior, and an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers, before being named Wolf Pack coach ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Knoblauch, who filled in as interim Rangers coach for six games when David Quinn was in COVID-19 protocol in 2021, was hired by the Edmonton Oilers last Nov. 12 to be their coach, and currently has them in the Stanley Cup Final. They trail the Florida Panthers 3-2 in the best-of-7 series after a 5-3 win in Game 5 on Tuesday.

Steve Smith stepped in as interim coach with the Wolf Pack when Knoblauch left for the Oilers job, Smith guided the Wolf Pack to the Atlantic Division Final, where they were swept by the Hershey Bears.

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 had 145 points (73 goals, 72 assists) 290 AHL games.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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