Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Palmer joins Muskegon coaching staff

The Muskegon Lumberjacks have announced that Steve Palmer will join the United States Hockey League team’s coaching staff.

Palmer, a journeyman player and a burgeoning coach, will join head coach Kevin Patrick and assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier behind the Jacks’ bench. The Missisauga, Ont., native will be heavily involved in not just coaching, but also recruiting.

“He’ll be involved in a number of areas and having a coach of his caliber on board will help us to do more scouting and build more relationships,” Patrick said. “Both of our assistant coaches had great on-ice careers, but they were both excellent students as well. They model the message that we’re trying to send to our players about not just being the best on the ice, but also in the classroom and the community.”

Palmer most recently served as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Denver during the 2009-10 season. The Pioneers earned berths to both the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA Tournament and finished the season ranked fifth in the nation. Under celebrated head coach George Gwozdecky, Palmer assisted in many facets of the coaching staff’s daily operation both on and off the ice.

“It was a great experience working with that staff and they’re coaching and recruiting on an unbelievable level,” Palmer said. “There were so many things I learned in one year that I never got to learn in 13 years as a player.”

“Here in Muskegon, we want to set the standard across the board,” said Patrick, who coached against the Pioneers while serving as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin. “Steve brings a wealth of knowledge, not just from his playing days, but also during his experience working with a program like Denver.”

Palmer amassed 134 points over his four-year playing career at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., during which his teams won at least 20 games every season and made three NCAA Tournament appearances. The centerman was a two-time Academic All-American and a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, and earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering and management.

“I loved my college experience, and I have aspirations of being a head college coach someday,” Palmer said. “I know in the USHL you have to know the league from the ground up, because it’s such a great developmental league for college players.”

Palmer stockpiled more than 500 points over a 13-year professional career in Europe, which he wrapped up in the 2008-09 season with EV Duisburg and Kassel of the German Elite League. After his pro career, he was eager to break into coaching.

Palmer earned his level-four coaching certification from USA Hockey and is an on- and off-ice personal trainer for individuals, small groups and teams. He has 18 years of experience working in hockey schools, including having served as head coach at the USA Hockey Select 15 Festival in Michigan last July.

He’s ecstatic about the opportunity to work with everyone on the Jacks’ staff.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Jacks’ coaching staff,” Palmer said. “Everyone you talk to in college hockey who talks about Coach Patrick has said I’ve landed in a good spot.”

Palmer’s wife, Melissa, is a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native. They have a 2-year-old son, Chase.

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