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Paek Back In Final, This Time As Coach

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

Jim Paek is back in Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup Final.

Only this time, he’s behind the bench.

Paek, who played parts of four seasons in Pittsburgh, became the first Korean to both play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. In recognition of those accomplishments, Paek’s Penguins jersey is displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Following his playing career, he got into coaching and is an assistant for the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Jim Paek

“I love the game and the sport and teaching,” he said. “To teach in Grand Rapids and see the guys come up and do well is really gratifying.”

Paek, in his third season with Grand Rapids, is working with the Red Wings’ extra players, who were brought up from Grand Rapids once that team’s season ended. He is happy to be part of the Stanley Cup Final again, but also glad to see Pittsburgh return there as well.

“It’s fantastic to see that organization back in the Stanley Cup Final and to see some old faces around. I am really happy for Mario. He’s one of the great guys,” he said. “For that city to be back in the Final is great. To be a part of the Final again on Detroit’s side is a great experience for me as a coach.”

Paek played three regular-season and eight playoff games for the Penguins in 1990-91. He played in 49 games the next season and 19 games during the team’s second Stanley Cup drive. He appeared in 77 games the next season and 41 in 1993-94 before he was traded to Los Angeles. While in Pittsburgh, he was named the team’s 1992 rookie of the year and was the co-winner of its 1993 community service award.

Paek is thrilled to see some of his former teammates around Mellon Arena.

“We only see each other once a year at the alumni golf tournaments and say hello then,” he said. “To see them is great because they are a big part of my hockey career. I made some good friends there and it’s fantastic to see them again.”

And, Paek is happy to see the Penguins’ success extend to the team’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the Calder Cup Final.  

“That says something about the Penguins organization. They are building a winning culture, starting from the minors and moving all the way up to their big team,” Paek said. “It’s a credit to what they’ve done and their scouting. Todd Richards has done a great job in Wilkes-Barre. He’s a great guy and a great coach and he’s done a real fantastic job with those kids.”

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