The Carolina Hurricanes hired Florida Panthers assistant coach Mark Morris as the new head coach for the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes’ American Hockey League affiliate, it was announced Thursday.
The Hurricanes also announced that Checkers assistant coach Geordie Kinnear has been re-signed and will remain with the team.
Morris, 57, spent the 2014-15 season as a Panthers assistant after serving eight seasons as head coach of the AHL Manchester Monarchs. Morris had a career regular-season record of 338-224-66.
Morris holds Manchester franchise records for regular-season games coached (628), wins (338) and postseason wins (35), and his teams advanced to the Calder Cup playoffs in seven of his eight seasons. In his final season with Manchester in 2013-14, the Monarchs went 48-19-9.
“Mark is an experienced head coach whose teams never had a losing record in 21 seasons at Clarkson and with Manchester,” Canes general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “He is a proven teacher of the game who has been a part of developing successful NHL players.”
Morris coached a number of players with the Monarchs who went on to successful NHL careers, including 13 players on the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Among the NHL players whose development was aided by Morris, either in the AHL or college, are former Canes forward Erik Cole, Willie Mitchell, Craig Conroy, Jonathan Quick, Alec Martinez, Kyle Clifford, Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle, Tim Jackman and Teddy Purcell.
Morris also coached on the college level, guiding Clarkson University to a 306-156-42 regular-season record and a playoff record of 39-19-1. He holds the school records for wins and is the only coach to compile more than 300 wins at both the collegiate and professional levels.
The Golden Knights appeared in the NCAA tournament nine times in Morris’ 14 years at Clarkson, advancing to the Frozen Four in 1991.
In addition to his head coaching positions, Morris gained experience as a special assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach with the Vancouver Canucks.
He also served as an interim assistant coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit and in assistant coaching roles for Union College and St. Lawrence University. Originally from Massena, N.Y., Morris was a defenseman as a player, playing collegiately at Colgate before playing professionally for New Haven of the AHL and Dallas of the Central Hockey League.
The Hurricanes began the search for a new Checkers coach when Jeff Daniels did not have his contract renewed after the 2014-2015 season.