Samuelsson, 56, joined the Panthers on Monday, reunited as an assistant coach under current bench boss Joel Quenneville, whom he’d previously worked with in Chicago before the Blackhawks let both go in 2018.
“They asked permission to fill that spot with a defensive coach, so he’s going to go back and work with Joel,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said Monday.
Longtime former NHL defenseman Samuelsson, who teamed with Francis in Hartford and on Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh, has made no secret of wanting to be an NHL head coach. He’d previously served as a New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes assistant and as head coach of the American Hockey League Charlotte Checkers, an affiliate to the Carolina Hurricanes when Francis was GM of that NHL club.
After joining the Kraken late last year, Samuelsson left the team in February to join his former Leksands IF pro club in his native Sweden as a head coach during their late-season stretch run.
“I know how it feels to be a player in a good environment,’’ Samuelsson said, days before taking that job. “And I know as a coach how to create a good environment and be honest and good with players.’’
After that, he rejoined the Kraken last summer but now will move on to a Florida squad that improved under Quenneville this past season before being eliminated by the New York Islanders in the opening round of the playoffs.
Francis said he likely won’t hire his own head coach until the second quarter of next year — former Vegas Golden Knights boss Gerard Gallant appears the favorite for that job — meaning Samuelsson’s chances of a coaching role with the Kraken wouldn’t have been known for several more months.
Kraken pro scout Lorne Henning, like Samuelsson, is based in Southern California and Francis said he will pick up the void left by Samuelsson for now.