The Buffalo Sabres on Thursday re-signed coach Kevin Dineen and assistant coach Eric Weinrich to run their AHL farm team, the Portland Pirates, for the 2010-11 season.
"We are delighted to have Kevin and Eric returning to coach the Portland Pirates," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said in a statement. "They have done an excellent job in respect to our young players and their development within the organization. As we continue to grow our young prospects, we are confident their success in the National Hockey League can be attributed to their time spent with such quality individuals that we have in place in Portland."
Dineen, who won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach in 2005-06, is heading into his sixth season as coach of the Pirates. The 46-year-old is the longest-tenured coach in Pirates franchise history and stands as the franchise leader in games coached (400), wins (219) and winning percentage (.610). He guided the Pirates to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2009-10 with a record of 45-24-7-4 and has led the Pirates to two Eastern Conference Finals, coming within one win of the Calder Cup Finals each time.
"We are thrilled to have both Kevin and Eric behind the Pirates bench for another season," Pirates Managing Owner and CEO Brian Petrovek said. "Within the hockey world, Kevin has developed into and now become one of the top pro coaches in the business and he has proven by his outstanding coaching record and by the young players he has developed that he is as talented as they get in his profession."
In 19 NHL seasons, Dineen had 355 goals, 760 points and 2,229 penalty minutes in 1,188 games with Columbus, Ottawa, Hartford/Carolina and Philadelphia. Dineen spent two seasons working in the Columbus Blue Jackets' hockey operations department in player development before becoming coach of the Pirates.
"I am very excited to back as part of the Buffalo Sabres organization," Dineen said. "My family and I are thrilled to return to Portland for a sixth season as we continue our effort of reaching our goal to win a Calder Cup championship for the great fans of Portland."
Weinrich, 43, is entering his third full season on Dineen's staff. He started the 2006-07 season as an assistant coach but chose to step back onto the ice and resume his playing career with the Pirates before retiring for good in 2007-08.
"Eric's impact as an assistant coach with the Pirates has been outstanding," Petrovek said. "He has been able to translate the successes he enjoyed as a world-class blueliner into an ability to communicate with our young players and help develop them with his knowledge and experience. He and Kevin have developed a great approach together. Their preparation, teamwork and camaraderie have been paramount to our success."
"I expressed to Darcy (Regier) that I really enjoyed being part of the organization and was hoping that they would consider re-signing me and he said they would be happy to have me back," Weinrich said. "I've been associated with Kevin in one way or another for the past four seasons and I look forward to working with him again and learning all I can from his experience and leadership of the team."
In 18 NHL seasons with Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Vancouver, Weinrich had 70 goals, 318 assists and 825 penalty minutes in 1,157 games.
"It's great to have Eric back as part of my staff," Dineen said. "He brings a wealth of NHL and AHL experience and does a great job mentoring our young defensemen."