Monday, November 10, 2008

Stefan out, Vellucci back behind Whalers' bench

The winningest coach in the history of the Plymouth Whalers is behind the bench again.

Plymouth general manager Mike Vellucci announced today that Greg Stefan (pictured) has resigned as head coach of the Whalers and will take a job as special assignments scout for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, reporting to Hurricanes’ general manager Jim Rutherford.

Vellucci will move back behind the Whalers bench as head coach for a second term.

Vellucci practiced with his team today. Plymouth associate coach Joe Stefan and assistant coach Brian Sommariva remain with the team in their current positions.

Stefan became Plymouth’s head coach last December 11 when Vellucci was promoted within Compuware’s hockey organization to concentrate on the growth of Compuware Arena. Before that, Stefan served as an assistant coach for the Whalers from 1993-1998 and rejoined the organization in 2003 as assistant coach and director of player development where he worked until joining the Hurricanes in 2005. Stefan, 47, served two-plus seasons on the Hurricanes’ coaching staff as goaltending coach/pro scout prior to taking over as Plymouth’s head coach.

Vellucci, 42, was originally hired as Plymouth’s head coach in 2001 and led the Whalers to their second championship over the team’s 19-year history in 2007. Plymouth has won four West Division titles and never finished lower than second place during Vellucci’s tenure behind the bench.

Vellucci became the winningest coach in Plymouth history last season while compiling a record of 246-132-37-22, good for a .630 winning percentage, second in franchise history behind Paul Maurice (.681). Vellucci also became the first American to win the Ontario Hockey League’s Matt Leyden Award as Coach of the Year in 2007.

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