March 15, 2010

Pirates get familiar assistant

PAUL BETIT

— By

Staff Writer

For the second time in three seasons, Eric Weinrich will be an assistant coach for the Portland Pirates.

The Pirates will make a formal announcement about Weinrich's hiring during a press conference at 2 p.m. today at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Weinrich, a veteran of 18 NHL seasons who grew up in Gardiner, will be one of two assistant coaches joining the staff of head coach Kevin Dineen for the Pirates' first season as an affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

Following his retirement as an NHL player, Weinrich, began the 2006-07 season as an assistant coach with the Pirates.

Weinrich then 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 think he's really ready to take the next step in his life and go full-time into trying to develop young players,'' Dineen said. ''I think it's a good move for Eric and for Buffalo.''

''I think he's got a real advantage this time because there's no adjustment period. He knows what my expectations are. There's no learning curve. He's got a chance to step right in.''

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 the result of a fight.

''Of course, what happened (to me) at the end of the last season probably played a pretty big part in the decision to pursue coaching again,'' Weinrich said.

''But all along that was my plan anyway. I wanted to stay in the game in a coaching role, and I'm really excited I got this opportunity from Buffalo, especially to be working with Kevin.''

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

''I'm pretty fortunate,'' he said. ''A lot of people probably don't get the chance I've got here to work for the team in the town I'm living in. It's kind of an unusual situation for a guy when he makes the switch.''

Weinrich and his family live on Cousins Island in Yarmouth.

''By all means, it doesn't mean this is the only job I would have considered,'' he said, ''but having it right in your backyard means a great deal to me and my family.''

Kevin Collins, who served as an assistant coach for Buffalo's former American Hockey League affiliate -- the Rochester Americans -- will be the Pirates' other assistant, according to Dineen. His primary duties will be strength and conditioning and video analysis.

Dineen said Rob Frost, a trainer for the hockey team at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., the past four seasons, and Henning Svendsen, a former assistant equipment manager for the AHL's Toronto Marlies, also will be named to the Portland staff.

Formal announcement of those three appointments will come at a later date.

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

pbetit@pressherald.com

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