When Eric Weinrich returned to Maine after retiring from the NHL in 2006, he made a vow to his family. And when the Buffalo Sabres announced they were relocating their minor league operations from Portland to Rochester, N.Y., Weinrich stood firm on that vow.
“By staying here, I wanted to fulfill a promise to them,” said Weinrich, who has played and coached for the Portland Pirates for the past five seasons. “When we came here, we wouldn’t move anymore.”
Weinrich said Wednesday that while he is still under contract with the Sabres, he will not join the coaching staff of the Rochester Americans next season.
“Being an assistant coach and moving to Rochester, I decided I wasn’t going to do that,” Weinrich said, adding his contract with the Sabres runs through August. “It’s now wait and see what else comes up next.”
The Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans officially announced their affiliation Wednesday at a news conference in Rochester, where Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier said Weinrich would not join the Americans’ coaching staff. Regier also said the Americans have not hired a coach yet to replace Kevin Dineen, who became head coach of the Florida Panthers earlier this month.
Weinrich said he has not been going out of his way to pursue further opportunities in hockey.
“I’ve had some conversations, so I’m optimistic that something will work out,” Weinrich said. “But nothing definite yet.”
Weinrich said he had not been contacted by the Pirates or the Phoenix Coyotes, who became the Pirates’ NHL affiliate on Monday. During a conference call Monday afternoon, Coyotes Assistant GM Brad Treliving said Ray Edwards will coach the Pirates, but Treliving also said the Coyotes were aware of Weinrich and of his background as a player and coach.
“At this time I believe Eric is still under contract with Buffalo,” Treliving said. “Those are things we plan to explore and have the best staff put together come training camp.”
Weinrich, a former University of Maine and North Yarmouth Academy standout, spent 18 seasons in the NHL. After retiring five years ago, he played for the Portland Pirates when they were the minor league affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks from 2006 to 2008, then became Dineen’s assistant coach at the start of the 2008-09 season, serving in that role for three seasons.
“The one thing I enjoyed about being part of the Buffalo organization was how personal it was,” Weinrich said. “From Darcy (Regier) on down, everybody in the organization made you feel like what you were doing was important to their ultimate goal. That’s all you can ask for, for a person in my position.
“When I went to work every day, I felt like I was helping out the team. I wanted to help people get a chance to play at the NHL, or if they couldn’t, to do the best they could at our level. It was a great experience.”
Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: