Kevin Dineen, head coach of the Portland Pirates for six seasons before moving on to the National Hockey League and striking Olympic gold last winter with the Canadian women’s team, has joined the staff of the Chicago Blackhawks as an assistant coach.

The move reunites Dineen with Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville. They were teammates – and roommates – with the Hartford Whalers from 1984 to 1990.

“I’m very excited,” Dineen said by phone Monday morning. “I had some fabulous conversations with some different organizations … but the chance to work with a future Hall of Fame coach like Joel and work with this organization was something that is really, really exciting for me.”

In his six seasons in Portland, Dineen led the Pirates to five American Hockey League playoff appearances and twice reached the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals. The NHL Florida Panthers hired him in 2011 and the team immediately won its first division title, qualifying for postseason play for the first time in 12 years. Florida lost in the first round to New Jersey, however, and failed to reach the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

After a disappointing start last season, the Panthers fired Dineen and his staff in early November. A month later, he took over Team Canada and led the women to a fourth straight Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia.

“I obviously had my goals set on (returning) as an NHL head coach and I let that scenario play out,” Dineen said. “At the end of the day, I ended up without a seat at the table.”

Dineen said he had opportunities as a head coach at lower levels, but opted to remain in the NHL as an assistant. A “comparable opportunity in New England” made the final decision a tough one, he said, but after meeting with Blackhawks ownership and management last week in Chicago, he opted to reunite with Quenneville.

In six years as head coach with Chicago, Quenneville has won two Stanley Cups. He won a third as an assistant with Colorado in 1996. Including his time with St. Louis and Colorado, he is one of three head coaches in NHL history with at least 700 victories.

“Joel’s had three Stanley Cup parties and I’ve been to every one of them,” Dineen said. “He’s always been a good friend, but that gets you in the door. At the end of the day, you make decisions strictly on what feels best.”

Dineen has a good idea of what his responsibilities will be, but preferred to have those duties announced by his new employers.

“Kevin brings proven leadership qualities, having served as an alternate captain and captain for several of his teams during his 19-year NHL career,” said Stan Bowman, Blackhawks vice president and general manager, in a statement released by the team. “He will bring another well-respected voice to our coaching staff and we look forward to his contributions to our team.”

Kevin and Annie Dineen have four children. The oldest, Hannah, is a sophomore at Colby College in Waterville and a member of the women’s ice hockey team.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

Gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH