Portland, ME – Portland Pirates General Manager Eric Joyce today announced the hire of Nick Vitucci as the team’s new Assistant Coach. He joins the Pirates staff from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, where he served as the Director of Hockey Operations for the past seven seasons, including five years as the club’s head coach. He will take over the Assistant Coach’s job vacated by Scott Allen when he assumed head coaching duties on January 1.
“As a member of the ECHL Hockey Hall of Fame and coach of the Toledo Walleye, Nick brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to our staff,” Joyce said. “He is intimately familiar with the attitude and preparation necessary for professional hockey players to both win and develop to their fullest potential. Nick is a welcome addition to Scott’s staff, our team in Portland, and the Florida Panthers organization.”
“I am very excited to begin this next chapter of my career in joining the Portland Pirates,” Vitucci said. “Scott Allen is one of the hardest working coaches in hockey. He is a former teammate and someone that I’m fortunate to call a friend. His ability to coach, prepare and teach is second to none. The opportunity to work with and learn under him is something that I’m looking forward to.”
A 48 year-old native of Welland, Ontario, Vitucci joined the coaching ranks while still a player with ECHL’s Toledo Storm during the 1994-95 season as a player-assistant. He served as a player-assistant in his final season as a player with the Greenville Grrrowl in 2000-01. He became a full-time coach assistant coach with Greenville the following season, which culminated in a Kelly Cup Championship.
In 2003, Vitucci returned to Toledo, where he was named the Storm’s Head Coach. He guided the club for four seasons, including recognition as ECHL Coach of the Year for the 2004-05 season and a trip to the Eastern Conference Final in 2005-06. He remained the Head Coach through the end of Toledo’s original ECHL franchise after the 2006-07 season.
When ECHL hockey returned to Toledo upon the completion of the Huntington Center in 2009, Vitucci was named the Head Coach of the Walleye. He held the position until stepping down as the Head Coach after the 2013-14 season. He assumed full-time duties as the Director of Hockey Operations with the Walleye thereafter.
In nine seasons as a head coach, Vitucci compiled a 294-275-8-48 record, good for a 0.515 winning percentage.
“I am pleased to have Nick on our staff here in Portland as we continue to work on developing successful players for the Florida Panthers while trying to compete for a Calder Cup,” said Pirates Head Coach Scott Allen.
As a player, Vitucci played 13 seasons as a goalie, mostly in the ECHL. He won four ECHL Championships and was twice named the ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player, winning the award in 1989 with the Carolina Thunderbirds and again in 1996 with Charlotte Checkers. He also won ECHL championships with the Greensboro Monarchs 1990 and Toledo in 1994.
Inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as part of their inaugural class in 2008, Vitucci is the only goalie in pro hockey history to be credited with a goal while the opposing goalie was in the net. His goal came on March 6, 1996 for Charlotte against the Louisville RiverFrogs.
Vitucci played a total of seven games in the AHL over his career, including one for Portland’s previous AHL team, the Maine Mariners, during the 1991-92 season. He also played in four games with the Hershey Bears that year, and two more with the Binghamton Rangers during the 1996-97 season.
Allen and Vitucci were teammates on two occasions, with Carolina in 1988-89, and both the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds and Greensboro the following season.