March 15, 2010

He'll be staying on the bench

PAUL BETIT

— By

click image to enlarge

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer: Eric Weinrich has been named assistant coach for the Portland Pirates under their new affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres. Weinrich photographed at press conference at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

Gregory Rec

Staff Writer

Eric Weinrich promised he will stay behind the bench for good during his second stint as an assistant coach for the Portland Pirates.

''This definitely won't be a Brett Favre situation,'' Weinrich said during a press conference Tuesday at the Cumberland County Civic Center announcing his addition to the Pirates' coaching staff. ''There will be no comeback this time.''

Weinrich, who grew up in Gardiner and played 18 seasons in the NHL, began the 2006-07 season as an assistant with the Pirates. He came out of retirement in January 2007 to play for the Pirates and remained with the team as a player through the end of last season.

''I had a little taste of what it was like to be in the coaching role and then I went back (as a player),'' he said. ''The (AHL) was a lot different than when I played in it, so I got a feel for what these guys are going through. They are much younger players than when I started (in 1988).

''Now that I know both sides of it, I think I'm even more well-prepared for it.''

Tuesday's formal announcement came three weeks after the Buffalo Sabres hired Kevin Dineen as Portland's head coach for the next two seasons. Dineen had coached the Pirates for the past three seasons when they were affiliated with Anaheim.

''For Kevin to consider me to be his assistant is a great honor, and I can't wait to get started,'' Weinrich said.

Weinrich, 41, missed the final three months of last season after suffering three breaks of the orbital bone around his left eye and a broken jaw as a result of a fight.

Last month he said medical issues would prevent him from passing a physical, leading to his decision to end his playing career.

Since then, Weinrich said he had been offered coaching positions with at least two college hockey programs, but he said working for the Pirates was the right situation for him at this point in his life.

His wife, Tracy, agreed.

''This is the ideal job right now,'' she said. ''Having him happy and having him here, right where we are, it's perfect.''

The Weinrich family, which includes son Ben and daughter Emily, lives on Cousins Island in Yarmouth.

''The kids are settled here and they're happy,'' she said. ''We didn't want to uproot them.''

Dineen, who spends summers in upstate New York, didn't attend the press conference.

In written statement, he said: ''Eric has been with us for two years now, so he is aware of his role and (our) expectations. Given his long playing career, I feel he will be a strong addition to help develop our Sabres prospects.''

Weinrich will get his first look at some of the Portland players Sept. 14 when Buffalo's prospects report to rookie camp at the team's practice rink in Amherst, N.Y.

''I've got three weeks to do my homework,'' he said.

Weinrich said Dineen will furnish him with scouting reports so he can learn about some of the prospective Pirates.

''Maybe some of these guys have played for people I know and I can make some phone calls and find out more about them,'' he said.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

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