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Primeau eager to begin new role in ECHL

Thursday, 07.23.2009 / 1:30 PM / ECHL Report

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Ryan Mougenel's strong network of contacts just made his Las Vegas Wranglers even stronger.

The team's new coach announced last week that former NHL star Keith Primeau has been named Special Assistant to the General Manager/Director of Player Development of the Wranglers.

It's been six years since Primeau played the final full NHL season of a career that was cut short by concussions. Primeau, 37, will be involved with player recruiting, scouting, player evaluation and assessment, as well as team administration. He had 266 goals and 353 assists in 909 career games that spanned 15 seasons with Philadelphia, Detroit, Hartford and Carolina.   

"To have Keith as a part of our staff is very exciting for the new direction of our program," said Mougenel, who is also the team's GM. "Keith brings a ton of hockey knowledge to our organization and we are very fortunate to have him. His presence and leadership are going to be a huge asset and something I will rely on heavily during the season. To have this quality of a person for our program is extraordinary and I look forward to seeing his passion for player development match the intensity he brought on the ice in the NHL for 15 seasons."

Primeau currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he plans on being 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 told the paper. "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."

Coaching professional hockey will be a new experience for Primeau, but he won't be going in wearing blinders. He's been an assistant at Bishop Eustace Prep in Pennsauken, N.J., and has also coached his sons at the youth level. This is simply the next step in the process as Primeau begins his pro career behind the bench.

"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."

Mougenel, who co-owns the Durham Hockey Institute in Oshawa, Ont., with Keith and brother Wayne Primeau, believes his colleague has a very bright future in the business.

"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."

Stingrays, Caps renew -- The Kelly Cup champion South Carolina Stingrays have renewed their affiliation with the Washington Capitals for the 2009-10 season. The Stingrays will be guided by first-year coach Cail MacLean after Jared Bednar's departure for the AHL's Abbotsford Heat.

"We are very excited to be affiliated with the Capitals again next season," MacLean said. "It's a great situation when you can work with an NHL team that believes in the value of development at the Double-A level."

"I discovered I had a real passion for (coaching), but I missed the competition at the higher levels. This will reintroduce me to the game at the professional level and still (allow) me to follow through with the commitments I made prior."
-- Keith Primeau

Nine players who have played for South Carolina are currently under contract with Washington: Sean Collins, Stefan Della Rovere, Viktor Dovgan, Josh Godfrey, Andrew Gordon, Patrick McNeill, Michal Neuvirth, Steve Pinizzotto and Kyle Wilson. Of those, Collins, Gordon and Neuvirth have all appeared at the NHL level with the Capitals.

"We have a lot of pride in our affiliation with South Carolina, highlighted by the Stingrays' run to the Kelly Cup this spring," Washington GM George McPhee said. "It has been an outstanding proving ground for our prospects."

Around the ECHL
-- The Ontario Reign signed forwards Jon Rheault and Geoff Walker. ... F Chris Neiszner agreed to terms with Las Vegas. ... The Florida Everblades signed rookie forward Benjamin Breault. ... F Olivier Labelle, who had 16 goals for Victoria last season, will play for the Reading Royals in 2009-10. ... The Utah Grizzlies re-signed forward Scott Thauwald and defenseman Tim Maxwell. ... Defensemen Luke Lucyk, Steve Ward and Julien Brouillette and forward Matt Schepke have all signed with the Charlotte Checkers. ... The Gwinnett Gladiators agreed to terms with defensemen Sam Roberts and Chris Zarb.

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.


For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory