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Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson named head coach of Carolina’s AHL team

Ulf Samuelsson, left, and Alain Vigneault, right, observe

Ulf Samuelsson, left, and Alain Vigneault, right, observe Rangers pregame warmups before action against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 22, 2013. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

There’s a vacancy behind the Rangers’ bench. Ulf Samuelsson, who was an assistant coach for Alain Vigneault for three years, is the new head coach of the AHL Charlotte Checkers, an affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

“Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis, who played with Samuelsson, said on the club’s website. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”

Samuelsson, 52, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992 who also played with the Hartford Whalers and the Rangers, is a former assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes and was head coach of Modo in the Swedish Elite League for two seasons. He had been overseeing the Rangers’ defense and penalty kill, which were strong and steady in Vigneault’s first two seasons but slipped this year, in part because of injuries and personnel changes.

The Rangers said no successor has been named. One potential candidate will be Hartford Wolfpack assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom, 51, who played for the Oilers and Rangers. He has been running the defense for the Wolf Pack for five years and tutoring prospects such as Dylan McIlrath, Ryan Graves and Brady Skjei.

Should Vigneault prefer someone familiar and with NHL experience, another candidate could be Rick Bowness, who was his assistant for seven years in Vancouver. Bowness, 61, who coached the Islanders for 100 games (38-50-12) between 1996 and 1998, is an assistant in Tampa. Other coaches with experience are available as well. Front offices in Ottawa, St. Louis, Buffalo, Florida and Boston have recently dismissed assistants.

Vigneault’s staff consists of associate coach Scott Arniel, assistant Darryl Williams and goaltending coach Benoit Allaire.

New York Sports