The 2012-13 American Hockey League season is Jim Schoenfeld’s tenth year as General Manager of the Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack. Schoenfeld also serves the parent New York Rangers organization as the Rangers’ assistant general manager, player personnel, a post he has held since July 23, 2007, and as an assistant to Head Coach John Tortorella. Schoenfeld took on that role when Tortorella joined the Rangers February 23, 2009.
Schoenfeld assumed the Wolf Pack’s general managership July 21, 2003, and the team compiled a record of 397-237-40-42 (.612 points percentage) during his first nine years in that role. Schoenfeld also served as the Whale/Wolf Pack’s head coach for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, leading the club to a total mark of 95-53-5-7 (.631) in those two campaigns.
Schoenfeld, 61, has been involved in pro hockey for over 40 years and has enjoyed tremendous success as a player, coach and broadcaster. He came to the Wolf Pack after an earlier, one-season stint as an assistant coach with the Rangers. Prior to that, he had spent three years as the lead analyst for ESPN’s National Hockey Night.
Schoenfeld has logged a total of 10 seasons behind NHL benches as a head coach, accumulating an overall record of 256-246-78 (.509 winning percentage) with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Phoenix Coyotes. His most recent NHL head-coaching turn was with Phoenix in 1997-98 and ‘98-99. His total record with the Coyotes was 72-66-24. That included a 1998-99 slate of 39-31-12, which ranks second in franchise history for most victories in a single season. Schoenfeld helped represent the Coyotes that year at the NHL All-Star Game, as a member of the North American team’s coaching staff.
After a previous broadcasting stint with ESPN, Schoenfeld assumed head-coaching duties with the Washington Capitals on January 27, 1994. He compiled a 113-102-34 (.522 winning percentage) in 249 games and three-plus seasons in Washington, ranking him fourth in Capitals history in games-coached (249) and victories (113), and fifth in winning percentage (.522). Schoenfeld piloted the New Jersey Devils from January 26, 1988 through November 6, 1990, leading the club to a record of 50-59-15 in 124 games. In 1987-88, he was responsible for coaching the Devils to their first-ever Stanley Cup playoff appearance, taking the club to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Schoenfeld started his NHL head coaching career during the 1985-86 campaign with the Buffalo Sabres, whom he guided until January 15th of that year, before general manager Scotty Bowman resumed his coaching career. Prior to joining the Sabres’ coaching staff, he served as head coach of their top American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans, for a portion of the 1984-85 season. Schoenfeld’s tenure at the helm of the Americans ended when he came out of retirement and rejoined the Sabres’ active playing lineup on December 19, 1984.
Schoenfeld skated for 13 seasons as an NHL defenseman, appearing in a total of 719 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins from 1972-73 through 1984-85. Captain of the Sabres from 1974-77, he suited up for 584 contests in a Buffalo uniform, registering 51 goals and 204 assists for 255 points, along with 1,132 penalty minutes. Schoenfeld earned Second-Team NHL All-Star honors in 1979-80 and also took part in the 1977 and 1980 NHL All-Star Games, as well as the 1979 Challenge Cup series. He was Buffalo’s first selection (fifth overall) in the 1972 NHL Entry Draft and at the time he was named captain of the Sabres, in October of 1974, at 22 he owned the distinction of having been the youngest captain in NHL history. Schoenfeld is a member of both the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.
A native of Galt, Ontario, Schoenfeld and his wife, Theresa, have a daughter, Katie, and three sons, Justin, Adam and Nathan.
Throughout the entirety of the Wolf Pack’s 17 seasons of existence, the one constant that has defined the franchise’s identity has been the leadership of Ken Gernander.
Named to his current head-coaching post July 23, 2007 after two seasons as an assistant coach and eight years as the Wolf Pack’s captain, Gernander is the longest-serving head coach in franchise history and has continued the same tremendous level of achievement behind the bench as he enjoyed while a Pack player.
After a 36-27-7-7, 86-point season in 2011-12, Gernander’s overall head coaching record stood at 208-138-20-30, for a stellar .588 winning percentage. The Coleraine, MN native has led his team to four playoff berths in five seasons at the helm and has finished each of those five years above .500. Gernander coached the Wolf Pack to an Atlantic Division championship in 2008-09, going 46-27-3-4 for 99 points, and led the team to a franchise-record 110 standings points (50-20-2-8) in his very first year as head man, 2007-08.
For much of his playing career, Gernander was as close as one could get to being a coach on the ice, as he was the only captain the Wolf Pack ever had through their first eight years and wore the “C” for the parent New York Rangers’ top development team for ten straight years. Gernander spent 11 of his 14 seasons in the Ranger organization, a record of consistent association with a single franchise that is almost unheard of in today’s sports world, let alone in minor pro sports. That association continued uninterrupted with the move of Gernander from locker room to coach’s office.
Gernander retired as the top-scoring American-born player in AHL history, with totals of 293-331-624 in 973 games. He also suited up for a then league-record 123 postseason contests. In 599 games with the Wolf Pack, Gernander registered 347 points (a franchise record at the time of his retirement, since surpassed by Brad Smyth), with 160 goals and 187 assists, and led the Pack to a Calder Cup championship in 1999-00. He twice captured the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey (1995-96 with the Binghamton Rangers and 2003-04 with the Wolf Pack) and was named the Pack’s 2003-04 American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year.
During his 11 years with the Ranger organization, Gernander appeared in 12 regular-season NHL games (2-3-5) and 15 postseason matches. He originally signed as a free agent with the Rangers July 4, 1994.
Gernander, 44, spent the first three seasons of his pro career in the Winnipeg Jets organization, which drafted him out of high school in 1987 (fifth round, 96th overall). He went to the Calder Cup Finals with the Moncton Hawks in 1993-94. Prior to turning pro, Gernander played four seasons at the University of Minnesota.
Gernander and his wife, Kerby, reside in New Britain with daughters McKenna and Miranda and son Micah.
Pat Boller is in his seventh season of service on the Wolf Pack staff, and added assistant general manager duties to his title prior to the 2012-13 season.
In addition to working the Wolf Pack bench with Head Coach Ken Gernander and fellow assistant Jeff Beukeboom, Boller acts as the Whale’s video analyst, while also assisting General Manager Jim Schoenfeld with all the team’s administrative duties.
The 40-year-old Boller joined the Wolf Pack after serving nine years in the Rangers organization as a Coaches Assistant and Director of Operations, Madison Square Garden Training Center. In this capacity, he worked closely with Video Analyst Jerry Dineen to prepare video, as well as assisting with pre-scouting and tracking statistics. Additionally, Boller helped coordinate team travel and scheduling.
Boller was also instrumental in organizing and assisting with summer prospect and development camps, working closely with Rangers’ prospects on and off the ice. The summer months also involved setting up player rehab and off-season programs in preparation for the coming season.
A former college hockey player and assistant captain at SUNY Potsdam, Boller was a member of the coaching staff at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. During his tenure, Manhattanville won the ECAC Championship three straight seasons (2005, 2006 and 2007). He also helped lead Manhattanville to an appearance in the Division III Final Eight in 2005 and 2006, and a Final Four appearance in 2007. The Queens, New York native made it to the international stage in 2006 as video coach for USA Hockey at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia, serving under Head Coach Walt Kyle. He also went on to coach at the USA Select 15 Festival in 2006 and 2007.
Boller and his wife, Claudia, reside in Danbury, Connecticut with their sons, Kyle and Jack.
The newest member of the Wolf Pack staff, former New York Ranger and four-time Stanley Cup champion Jeff Beukeboom, was named a Wolf Pack assistant coach July 6, 2012.
Beukeboom, who enjoyed a 13-year, 804-game career as an NHL defenseman, came to the Wolf Pack after three seasons as an assistant coach with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League. Prior to that, the 47-year-old Ajax, Ontario native spent one year as an assistant with the OHL’s Barrie Colts, and also gained assistant coaching experience with the Toronto Roadrunners of the AHL in 2003-04.
Drafted in the first round (19th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in 1983, Beukeboom broke into the NHL ranks with the Oilers in 1986-87 and would go on to win Stanley Cups with Edmonton in three of his first four seasons (1987, 1988 and 1990). The Rangers acquired Beukeboom from the Oilers November 12, 1991 in exchange for David Shaw, as part of the deal that October through which Mark Messier became a Ranger, and the final eight years of Beukeboom’s playing career were spent in Ranger uniform.
The 6-5, 230-pound Beukeboom logged a total of 520 games as a Ranger before retiring after the 1998-99 season, and was a key cog in the Rangers’ run to a Stanley Cup championship in 1994.
All told in NHL action, Beukeboom scored 30 goals and added 129 assists for 159 points, and registered 1,890 penalty minutes.
Damien begins his ninth season as Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate in 2012-13. He started in his current role with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2004-05. Prior to that, Damien was the Head Athletic Trainer for the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (ECHL) from 2001-2004. He was the athletic trainer of Atlantic City’s Kelly Cup Championship team in 2002-03. Damien also worked for the Atlantic City Surf, an independent minor league baseball team, from 2000-2004.
The York, PA native received a B.S. in Athletic Training from West Chester University in 1998 and an M.Ed. in Athletic Training from the University of Virginia in 1999. Damien resides in Canton, CT, with his wife Storey and their son, Alex.
Cesari begins his second season as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the CT Whale in 12-13. Cesari is no stranger to working with professional athletes as he has designed and implemented strength and conditioning programs for NHL, AHL, Olympic, and USA development athletes. He comes to the Whale after spending the last two years as the Rehabilitation Coordinator at a clinic in Montreal, QC. Prior to that, Cesari spent three seasons as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach/Athletic Trainer with the Rochester Institute of Technology hockey program.
In 2005, he worked with both the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL as the Assistant Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach. Cesari completed his Masters of Science degree in Sports Health Care from the Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2006. In 2004, he earned his bachelors degree in Exercise Science from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Cesari, a native of Montreal, currently resides in Hartford, CT with his wife Jennifer.
Russell begins his fourth season as the Head Equipment Manager, and tenth overall as a member of the equipment staff of the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate, in 2012-13. He started in his current role with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2009-2010. Russell spent the previous six seasons as the Assistant Equipment Manager.
Prior to working in pro hockey, Russell worked as an assistant manager for five years at Gerry Cosby’s Sporting Goods in Sheffield, MA. There he learned how to sharpen skates and do other hockey equipment repairs. He also learned how to sew and create protective pads on the factory side of Cosby’s, which produces equipment bags and football/hockey protective pads for many professional teams and players.
Born in South Kingston, RI, Russell grew up in Sheffield, MA. He graduated from Mt. Everett High School in 2001 and then attended Berkshire Community College for two years until moving to Hartford to begin working for the Wolf Pack. He had also received certification as an EMT-B in the state of CT. He resides in Manchester, CT.
Craig begins his fourth season as the Assistant Equipment Manager, and fifth overall as a member of the equipment staff with the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate, in 2012-13. Craig started in his current role with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2009-2010. Craig served as the Visiting Team Locker Room Assistant during the 2008-2009 campaign.
Prior to working with the Hartford Wolf Pack/CT Whale, Craig worked as an ice hockey official, doing several levels of hockey, including high school and college level games, throughout the state and New England. Craig was also a fan of the Hartford Wolf Pack growing up, coming to countless games.