Ulf Samuelsson Would Be Unqualified Choice for Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IMay 28, 2014

OTTAWA - OCTOBER 26: Ulf Samuelsson of the Phoenix Coyotes looks on from the players' bench during an NHL a game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on October 26, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

After supposedly learning the importance of prior head coaching experience from the Kirk Muller disaster, the Carolina Hurricanes now appear poised to again hire an untested former player as the team's next head coach.

Josh Rimer of Sportsnet reported via Twitter on Wednesday that Ulf Samuelsson is the leading candidate for the Carolina head coaching job:

Samuelsson is currently an assistant coach for the New York Rangers and served as a Phoenix Coyotes assistant from 2006 to 2011. His only former head coaching tenure came with Swedish club Modo from 2011 to 2013.

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30: Ron Francis of the Carolina Hurricanes handles duties at the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

He's also the third-dirtiest player in NHL history, per the Toronto Sun's rankings, and, most importantly, played with new Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis from 1985 to 1994.

Francis' ongoing coaching search has linked him to a number of former Hartford and Pittsburgh teammates, including Kevin Dineen, Ed Olczyk and Dean Evason.

It would be neither just nor considerable for him to cripple the 'Canes with such cronyism—but it seems that Francis may be determined to do so nonetheless.

MONTREAL 1990's: Ulf Samuelsson #5 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Montreal Canadiens in the early 1990's at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

Despite his 1,080 NHL appearances, Samuelsson's playing career was not particularly productive. He tallied just 57 goals and 275 assists—dwarfed by his 2,453 penalty minutes and equaled by his 57 career fights.

Perhaps most famous for ending Bruins star Cam Neely's career with a cheap-shot hit, Samuelsson, a defenseman, did not exactly demonstrate a strong capability for or deep understanding of offensive strategizing during his 17-season career.

The 50-year-old Swede's coaching career has been similarly unremarkable.

Coaching Modo in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 Elitserien campaigns, Samuelsson posted a mediocre 47-49-16 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs both years. Modo had the second-worst defense in the league his first year but improved to the middle of the pack by his second year.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson of the New York Rangers leaves the ice following a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Little seems to justify Samuelsson's contention, much less lead, in Carolina's coaching job race other than his aforementioned friendship with Francis.

That's where this story begins to feel like a close-minded betrayal of faith.

The 'Canes already tried hiring a coach with no NHL head coaching experience three years ago. The experiment cost the club three valuable years without any postseason berths, derailed Muller's previously ascending coaching career and arguably ended Jim Rutherford's career as a general manager.

Presumed when the Rutherford-Francis transition occurred was that the latter would bring a fresh, rejuvenating, no-strings-attached perspective to the leadership position. Initially, after dispatching Muller only one week later, those presumptions seemed verified

But hiring Samuelsson as a replacement could shed an unexpected shadow on Francis' first 60 days, indicating the coaching clearinghouse was simply a prerequisite for the installation of a spoils system.

No, it's not as if Francis is hiring his brother as head coach. He is hiring a legitimate coaching candidate.

Would Samuelsson toughen up Drayson Bowman? Yes, probably.

Yet would he be able to help Eric Staal's struggling confidence and production much? Doubtful.

It's tough to believe that Samuelsson could truly be the most qualified and deserving candidate available.


Mark Jones has been a Carolina Hurricanes Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report since 2009. Visit his profile to read more or follow him on Twitter.


    DeBrusk Is Mr. Game 7 for Bruins

    NHL logo

    DeBrusk Is Mr. Game 7 for Bruins

    NBC Sports
    via NBC Sports

    Turn It Up to 11? Pens, Caps Have a Lot to Live Up to

    NHL logo

    Turn It Up to 11? Pens, Caps Have a Lot to Live Up to

    Sean Leahy
    via ProHockeyTalk

    Full 2nd-Round Schedule Released

    NHL logo

    Full 2nd-Round Schedule Released

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Carolina Hurricanes: 3 reasons Scott Darling can have a big 2018-19 campaign

    Carolina Hurricanes logo
    Carolina Hurricanes

    Carolina Hurricanes: 3 reasons Scott Darling can have a big 2018-19 campaign

    Cardiac Cane
    via Cardiac Cane