Vellucci named Checkers head coach

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, the parent club of the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, announced today that Mike Vellucci has been named the new head coach of the Checkers.  Currently in his fourth season as the Assistant General Manager of the Hurricanes, Vellucci, 50, will remain in the role with the organization while coaching the Charlotte Checkers.  Vellucci replaces Ulf Samuelsson, who left the franchise to become an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Vellucci joined the Hurricanes in April of 2014, after spending 14 seasons with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, serving as their Head Coach and General Manager for the majority of his tenure with the team, leading the Whalers to a 468-322-36 mark during his time there and during the 2006-07 season, he became the first American to win the OHL’s Matt Leyden Trophy as Coach of the Year, after leading Plymouth to an OHL championship that season, and winning the OHL’s Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year titles in 2012-13.

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

Prior to joining the Plymouth Whalers, Vellucci was with Detroit Compuware of the North American Hockey League(NAHL), going 241-82-27 in the regular season from 1994-99, and capturing U.S. National Championships and the 1994 and 1999 seasons respectively.  The Ambassadors also captured two NAHL regular season titles and four Robertson Cup titles during his years there. During his playing career, Vellucci played in the IHL, AHL, ECHL, and BHL from 1986-89, and was selected by the Hartford Whalers in the seventh round of the 1987 NHL Draft and spent the 1987-88 season with Hartford.