Wranglers coach and general manager Ryan Mougenel won’t have an assistant coach in his first season with the team. But he will have a former NHL All-Star on his staff.
Keith Primeau, who played 15 years in the NHL before concussions forced him to retire in 2006, has been named special assistant to the GM and director of player development for the Wranglers.
Mougenel said Primeau, 37, will serve the ECHL team on the bench as well.
"It’s a pretty amazing thing and obviously we’re very excited about it," said Mougenel, a longtime friend of brothers Keith and Wayne Primeau, who plays for the Calgary Flames, the Wranglers’ NHL affiliate. "Keith and I have a lot of the same philosophies and I can’t think of a better guy to have as a resource."
Since retiring, Primeau has coached his sons’ youth teams and assisted at Bishop Eustace Prep in Pennsauken, N.J. He’ll continue those pursuits next season as he embarks on his professional coaching career.
"I discovered I had a real passion for (coaching), but I missed the competition at the higher levels," Primeau said. "This will reintroduce me to the game at the professional level and still (allow) me to follow through with the commitments I made prior."
Primeau’s job will include player recruiting and scouting, administration and coaching.
"He’s going to have a strong influence on the players and he’s going to be on the bench," Mougenel said. "I don’t think he’s too far away from being a GM and coach in the NHL, so we’re going to appreciate the time we’re going to have with him and use him to his full capacity."
Primeau scored 619 points in 909 regular-season games and 57 points in 128 playoff games for the Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. Detroit made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 entry draft behind Owen Nolan and Petr Nedved.
The former Flyers captain might be best remembered for ending the longest game in modern NHL playoff history by scoring in the fifth overtime, at the 152:01 mark, to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Primeau still lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and four children, but plans to be in Las Vegas "as much as my schedule will permit."
"This is, for me, the right decision and right opportunity at the right time," he said. "I take this opportunity and responsibility very seriously, and I have every intent of rolling my sleeves up and doing the work asked of me by Ryan."
Mougenel and the Primeau brothers are partners in the ownership of the Durham Hockey Institute in the Toronto area and the Whitby Fury, a team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.