The Rangers added former Stanley Cup winning defenseman and minor-league coach Jeff Beukeboom to their staff Friday to replace assistant Ulf Samuelsson, who left two months ago to coach the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
Beukeboom, 51, who won three Cups with Edmonton and in 1994 with the Rangers, has helped develop Rangers defense prospects Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei and Ryan Graves in Hartford, where he has been an assistant for four years.
Beukeboom, a bruising, physical player, who will run the defense, called all three “high-character players, driven, willing to work and coachable.”
“I’m excited to work with the group [in New York]”, he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 12 hours, 48 hours, a month. I’m still digesting all this, obviously there’s some relationships with a couple players. I’ve seen them play but I haven’t dissected them, will reach out to them soon.”
Samuelsson also ran the penalty-kill, which took a step backward last season, but it is unclear if that will be Beukeboom’s territory.
“We discussed the parameters a little bit, but no one’s come out and said “you’re doing this, this and this,” he said. “We’re going to meet in August and have more definition to everything. As a coaching staff, you always collaborate.”
After 804 NHL games and two serious concussions, Beukeboom was forced to retire in 1999. He then coached in the Ontario Hockey League.
“Right now, as we all know, the game is speed, speed, speed,” he said. “It’s probably the hardest position to play. It hasn’t gotten easier over the last 10 years. If you’ve got puck-moving defensemen, they’re a premium . . . you’ve got to change with the times as a coach.”
Asked about what he’s learned behind the bench, Beukeboom said: “I’m very approachable. I try to communicate, I listen, [but] if I have an opinion, I voice it… I’ve earned to keep your ears open and sometimes keep your mouth shut.”