From One Defender to Another: Will Rangers call upon Beuk’?

In Blueshirt Insider, Blueshirt Plus (*) by Dan Akeson

Who would have thought that defensemen known for a rugged, fists-first style of play would make such effective coaches?

Yesterday, the New York Rangers said goodbye to former defenseman and Assistant Coach Ulf Samuelsson, 52, who took a head coaching position with the Carolina Hurricanes AHL-affiliate, Charlotte Checkers.

In addition to his four seasons with a Blueshirt jersey as a player, Samuelsson served one season with the Hartford Wolf Pack as Assistant Coach before working his way through the Phoenix Coyotes organization and back to Sweden as the head coach of the MODO hockey team. In 2013, Samuelsson returned to the Rangers organization to serve as Assistant Coach to Alaine Vigneault, responsible for the defensive unit and penalty kill.

“Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” said Carolina Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”

So the Rangers have an important coaching vacancy to fill. Coming off a disappointing season defensively and on the penalty kill, the Blueshirts may look from within again to fill the void.

Former New York Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, 51, has been serving as Assistant Coach with the Hartford Wolf Pack since 2012. Beukeboom, like Samuelsson, has had success developing young defensemen notably Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei.

Known for his aggressive style of play, especially in front of the net, Beukeboom could bring a welcome voice to the Rangers defensive corp. that has grown stale and vanilla. After all, if “Beuk” could play alongside Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, there’s no reason he couldn’t do the same for Vigneault.

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