New Charlotte Checkers coach Mark Morris promised Friday that “good things are going to happen” to the franchise this season, both in terms of developing younger players and winning more games.
Morris, 57, comes to Charlotte after a career spent mostly either as a pro coach in hockey’s minor leagues or as a college coach at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.
Morris won more than 300 games and never posted a losing season at either place in 21 seasons. He spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers and had a year left on his contract, but he said he missed being a head coach. He has signed a two-year deal with the Checkers, who are the American Hockey League affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
When Manchester and Charlotte were in the AHL together, Morris coached briefly against the Checkers. At Manchester, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, Morris was head coach from 2006 to 2014. Thirteen of his former Monarchs players played on the 2012 Stanley Cup-winning Kings team.
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Morris said he was “excited” about the pipeline of good players the Checkers will plug into – he spent a few days in Raleigh this week at Hurricanes headquarters talking with officials and evaluating players. He said the Hurricanes’ commitment to the Charlotte franchise was promising.
“Winning is hard,” Morris said. “You can’t just flick a switch. It takes time. ... And without good players, it’s hard to make happen. But you can pull players along that maybe just need some confidence, and in the end it’s how hard they play for one another.”
Morris replaces Jeff Daniels, who was the Checkers’ head coach for the past seven years. Daniels’ contract was not renewed after the Checkers missed the playoffs for a second straight year in 2014-15. The team will move back to a newly renovated Bojangles’ Coliseum this season.