FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

The Phoenix Coyotes continue to have a Hartford Whalers look behind the bench.

Former Whalers and New Haven Nighthawks wing John Anderson has signed a multi-year contract to be a Coyotes assistant coach under former Whalers wing Dave Tippett. Anderson and Jim Playfair, who also has NHL head coaching experience with the Calgary Flames, replace former Whalers and Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who became head coach of Modo in his native Sweden on May 2, and Dave King, who was named a development coach last week.

“We are very pleased to have John join our coaching staff,” Coyotes general manager and former New York Rangers assistant GM and Hartford Wolf Pack GM Don Maloney said in a statement. “John has experience as an NHL head coach in addition to having won several championships as a head coach in the American Hockey League. He sees the game from an offensive perspective and he will be counted on to help improve our offensive performance. Both he and Jim Playfair will be great additions to Dave Tippett’s staff.”

It’ll be a reunion for Anderson and Tippett, who played together with the Whalers in 1985-89 and later coached against each other in the IHL. Anderson’s addition helps keep the strong Whalers look to the Coyotes staff as Doug Sulliman and Sean Burke both remain on the coaching staff.

“I’m really excited,” Anderson told reporters in Phoenix. “I’ve seen what Dave and Don have done the past two years with a constricted budget and some other (ownership) problems outside of it. They’ve managed to make the playoffs, and to me they must be doing something correct and I’m just dying to be a part of it.

“What I’m here to do for Dave is to help out with the daily planning of each game, and if there’s problems, whether it’s defensive or offensive, Jim and I are there to give him possible solutions, and then it’s for Dave to decide what we do as a staff and as a team.”

Anderson, 54, joins the Coyotes after two seasons as head coach of the former Atlanta Thrashers, who are now the Winnipeg Jets. Anderson is also the Chicago Wolves’ all-time coaching leader in wins (371) and holds the team record for postseason victories (80) while leading the franchise to IHL Turner Cup and AHL Calder Cup titles four times in eight seasons – 1997-98, 1999-00, 2001-02 and 2007-08.

A first-round pick (11th overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977, Anderson played 12 seasons in the NHL for the Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques and Whalers. He had 282 goals and 349 assists in 841 NHL games, including the winning goal against the Rangers on April 4, 1987, to give the Whalers their only division title.

Anderson played his final four pro seasons in the minors or Europe, including being named AHL MVP after getting 41 goals and 54 assists in 68 games with the Nighthawks in 1991-92.

Anderson coached the U.S. gold medal-winning team in the 2007 Jewish World Cup hockey tournament in Israel and then was named the Thrashers fourth head coach on June 20, 2008 after winning his second AHL championship. He was released as Thrashers coach on April 14, 2010.

BOYLE LOOKS MORE LIKE RANGER EVERY DAY

Center Brian Boyle might be one of three Rangers scheduled to have salary arbitration in the next two weeks, but he looks like he will be returning to Broadway more every day.

First, Boyle and Rangers/Connecticut Whale wing Mats Zuccarello worked out with skating instructor Barb Underwood after prospect camp workouts and scrimmages two weeks ago.

Boyle then made an appearance at the Rangers Summer Youth Hockey Camp Tuesday at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y., leading the youngsters through on-ice drills and sitting for an autograph session. He also addressed the upcoming season in serious tones.

“It’s great that we got (free agent center) Brad (Richards), and I’m super excited about that,” Boyle said. “But we all need to work even harder this offseason and be even better next season. We have to do this as a team, not rely on only one guy.”

Boyle has obviously been doing his part with more power skating lessons with Underhill and intensive off-ice conditioning. His salary arbitration case is scheduled July 25, while former Wolf Pack forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are slated to have their hearings on July 21 and 28.

CLASSY MOVE BY RANGERS

To honor the legacy of former left wing Derek Boogaard, the Rangers announced Wednesday that they will present two scholarships annually for Rangers Summer Youth Hockey Camp to children from the Defending the Blue Line program.

Defending the Blue Line is a nonprofit organization created by soldiers with the goal of making hockey accessible to children of our nation’s military heroes, a program Derek supported wholeheartedly throughout his hockey career. Throughout last season, Boogaard donated four seats at every Rangers home game for military families to attend as part of a group that he called “Boogaard’s Boogaardians.”

This year’s scholarship recipients are two 8-year old boys from New York City who each have family members currently serving in the military. The boys will attend the week-long camp July 18-22 at the MSG Training Center. Rangers center Derek Stepan, who is also an advocate of Defending the Blue Line, and former Wolf Pack defenseman Michael Sauer will visit the camp on July 22.

Rangers Youth Hockey Camp provides children with top-level hockey instruction with a focus on team participation and personal development. The Derek Boogaard Youth Hockey Scholarship will be awarded annually to honor Boogaard’s memory and continue the Rangers mission to help grow the game of hockey by making it accessible to all. Boogaard died May 13 at 28 from an accidental overdose of alcohol and oxycodone.

For more information on the Derek Boogaard Youth Hockey Scholarship or to cover the Rangers’ youth hockey camp, contact Lauren Buchman at Lauren.Buchman@msg.org.

BOGUINIECKI BACK WHERE IT ALL STARTED

West Haven native Eric Boguniecki moved back to Connecticut last year, renting a house in Orange and coaching in the Wonderland Wizards Youth Hockey Association in Bridgeport.

Now it’ll be a short commute to his first full-time pro coaching job as one of two Bridgeport Sound Tigers assistant coaches under former Wolf Pack defenseman Brent Thompson.

“For me, it’s big because it’s going to be my first real coaching gig, to be able to go in, get my feet wet, share my knowledge with these kids,” Boguniecki told Mike Fornabaio, the terrific longtime beat writer of the Sound Tigers for the Connecticut Post. “People look at me as that player. I don’t really have the experience, coaching-wise. That’s why it’s important.”

Boguniecki, 36, joins assistant Matt Bertani, who will return for his fourth season with the Sound Tigers. He is one year removed from a 13-year playing career that included one season with the Sound Tigers.

The gritty, 5-foot-8, 195-pound Boguniecki played four years at the University of New Hampshire, where his teammates included former Wolf Pack forward/defenseman Todd Hall, who played with Thompson in the first two seasons of the franchise (1997-98 and 1998-99). Bogie began his pro career in 1997-98 with the IHL’s Fort Wayne Komets and ECHL’s Dayton Bombers before having a breakout season in 1999-2000, when he had 33 goals and 42 assists in 57 games with the AHL’s Louisville Panthers and also was scoreless in his first four NHL games with Florida.

Boguniecki was named the AHL’s MVP in 2001-02, when he set career highs with 38 goals and 46 assists for the Worcester IceCats and became the only American-born player to receive the Les Cunningham Award since Eddie Olson in 1953. He followed that with his best NHL season, recording 22 goals and 27 assists as a member of the St. Louis Blues in 2002-03.

Boguniecki had 155 goals and 188 assists in 351 AHL games with Louisville, Worcester, Peoria, Syracuse, Bridgeport and Iowa and was an AHL All-Star in 2000, 2001 and 2002, when he was named to the AHL All-Star First Team. An eighth-round pick by St. Louis in 1993, Boguniecki had 34 goals and 42 assists in 178 NHL games with Florida, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders, the Sound Tigers’ parent club. He had 54 points in 48 games with the Sound Tigers in the 2006-07 after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ryan Caldwell.

Boguniecki ended his playing career getting 47 points in 51 games as a player/coach in 2009-10 for the Alaska Aces, coached by Thompson. They also played together in the Florida organization for two seasons (1999-2001), and in 2005, Boguniecki had a two-game AHL conditioning assignment with Peoria, where Thompson was in his first season as an assistant coach.

“(Coaching) has always been on the radar,” Boguniecki told Fornabaio. “We played together. We played against each other. We’ve got a great friendship. Working together as well in Alaska, we’ve got a very strong relationship. We know what to expect from each other.”

AVALANCHE, PENGUINS SIGN FORMER WOLF PACK FORWARDS

Former Rangers and Wolf Pack forward Patrick Rissmiller and forward T.J. Galiardi have signed one-year contracts with the Colorado Avalanche.

Rissmiller, 32, played for five teams last season, including two in the NHL, the former Atlanta Thrashers and the Florida Panthers. The native of Belmont, Mass., and graduate of Holy Cross, spent most of the season the Lake Erie Monsters, where he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 43 games. He also spent time with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and Chicago Wolves.

Originally signed by the San Jose Sharks as a free agent on June 30, 2033, Rissmiller has 18 goals and 28 assists in 192 NHL games. He signed a three-year, $3 million free-agent contract with the Rangers on July 1, 2008 but was injured in his debut, a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 11. He played only two games with the Rangers before being assigned on a conditioning assignment to the Wolf Pack on Nov. 12. After completing his assignment and without a role on the Rangers, he was returned to the Wolf Pack for the remainder of the season on Dec. 2. In 64 games in Hartford, he finished third in team scoring with 54 points (14 goals, 40 assists).

Rissmiller remained the Wolf Pack the next season and has two assists in six games before he was re-assigned by the Rangers to the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he finished second on the team scoring with 45 points. On Aug. 12, 2010, his disappointing time with the Rangers ended when he and fellow malcontent Donald Braeshear were traded to the Thrashers for center Todd White. Rissmiller was again demoted to the AHL with the Wolves for the last year of his contract. Because the Wolves exceeded the number of veteran players, he was limited to six games with the Wolves before being reassigned to the Monsters on Nov. 20.

Galiardi, 23, was limited to 35 games last season because of wrist and forearm injuries. The native of Calgary, Alberta, had seven goals and eight assists.

Meanwhile, the Penguins signed forward Steve MacIntyre to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The 6-5, 250-pound MacIntyre had one assist and 93 penalty minutes in 34 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season.

MacIntyre, 30, was originally signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and played parts of two seasons with the Wolf Pack, getting one goal and one assist in 30 games. He also played in the AHL with Providence and Rochester and has two goals and two assists in 78 NHL games with Edmonton and Florida.

PYLE NAMED STARS COACH

The Texas Stars named Jeff Pyle their second head coach Wednesday after he spent the last eight seasons as coach of the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. While with Gwinnett, Pyle had a 309-210-57 record and led the Gladiators to the 2006 Kelly Cup finals in his best season (50-15-7). Pyle’s pro playing career included a stint with the AHL’s Binghamton Whalers as a rookie in 1981-82.

Among the candidates that Pyle beat out was former Wolf Pack coach Ryan McGill, a finalist for the head coaching job of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, succeeding Curtis Hunt, who was fired last month. McGill, 42, has been looking for a job since April 25, when he was let go by the Flames after being an assistant for the last two seasons. Fellow assistants Jamie McLennan and Rob Cookson were also fired by the Flames.

Meanwhile, defenseman Dylan McIlrath, the Rangers’ first-round pick (10th overall) in 2010 who finished last season with the Whale, found out Wednesday that his new coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors will be Mike Stothers. McIlrath should be helped by playing for a former NHL player and assistant coach of the Thrashers, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Phantoms and Hershey Bears and head coach of the AHL’s Grand Rapid Griffins and OHL’s Owen Sound Attack … The Whale and the rest of the Atlantic Division won’t have to worry as much about facing 50-goal NHL scorer Jonathan Cheechoo, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues, whose top affiliate is Peoria. Cheechoo, 30, had 18 goals and 29 assists last season with the Worcester Sharks despite playing only 55 games after being injured when inadvertently sent into the boards by Zuccarello. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward has 170 goals and 135 assists in 501 NHL games in seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators. He led the NHL with 56 goals and set a career high with 93 points for San Jose in 2005-06. He has 82 goals and 98 assists in 217 AHL games with Kentucky, Cleveland, Binghamton and Worcester. … The Columbus Blue Jackets, parent club of the Springfield Falcons, have signed center Cody Bass to a one-year, two-way contract. Bass, 24, had six goals and nine assists last season for the Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators. The Senators’ fourth-round pick in 2005 also was recipient of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the AHL’s Man of the Year for his outstanding community efforts.

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