Former NAHL coach Vellucci named Assistant for NHL's Penguins
The NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins have named former NAHL head coach Mike Vellucci as an assistant coach, joining head coach Mike Sullivan‘s staff.
Vellucci, 54, spent the 2019-20 season as head coach and general manager of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, guiding them to a record of 29-26-3-5. Eight of Vellucci’s players saw action with Pittsburgh during the year.
Vellucci won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in 2018-19, leading the Charlotte Checkers to the best regular-season record in the league and later a Calder Cup championship. The Checkers’ 51-17-7-1 record (.724) was the 10th-best in AHL history, and the team led the league in penalty killing while ranking second in goals allowed and fifth in goals scored.
Vellucci was instrumental in developing prospects for the Hurricanes, who reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2019 for the first time in a decade; 13 different Checkers players earned recalls to Carolina during the 2018-19 season.
In two seasons with Charlotte, Vellucci guided the team to a record of 97-43-8-4. The Checkers reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs in 2018 before winning the title in 2019.
Vellucci began his coaching career in the NAHL with the Compuware Ambassadors from 1993 to 1999, where his teams went 241–82–27 in the regular season and captured two USA Hockey Junior A National Championships in 1994 and 1999. The Ambassadors also captured two NAHL regular season titles and four Robertson Cups during his tenure.
Vellucci was named the NAHL’s Executive of the Year twice in 1994-95 and again in 1998-99, and also earned NAHL Coach of the Year honors during the 1997-98 season.