The Red Deer Rebels have hired Steve Konowalchuk as the sixth head coach in franchise history.
Rebels President and General Manager Brent Sutter announced the news Tuesday.
Konowalchuk, a longtime NHL forward, joins Red Deer after spending the past three seasons as a professional scout with the New York Rangers, and returns to the WHL after leading the Seattle Thunderbirds to the 2017 WHL Championship.
The Salt Lake City, Utah product spent six seasons as bench boss in the Emerald City, compiling a 219-176-22-15 record. His Thunderbirds made back-to-back appearances in the WHL Championship series during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 WHL seasons.
He transitioned back to the NHL in the summer of 2017, spending one season as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks.
“Steve is the right coach at the right time for our hockey club. He is a person of high character, whose intensity and work ethic match that of our organization and community,” said Sutter. “With Steve’s winning pedigree, we have the right leadership to become a championship calibre team. We welcome Steve and his family to Central Alberta.”
As a player, Konowalchuk appeared in 790 NHL regular season games with the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche, winning an Eastern Conference championship with the Capitals during the 1997-98 season. He totalled 396 points (171G-225A) over the course of his NHL career.
He was drafted in the third round, 58th overall by Washington in the 1991 NHL Draft. The 48-year-old posted 196 points (94G-102A) in two WHL seasons with the Portland Winter Hawks between 1990 and 1992.
“I would like to thank Brent Sutter and the Red Deer Rebels for the opportunity to coach in the WHL again,” said Konowalchuk. “The organization has established itself as a top franchise in the league, and I look forward to working with the staff and players on reaching the organization’s high expectations. I would also like to express my gratitude to the New York Rangers for the opportunity given to me over the past three seasons.”
Konowalchuk will officially join the Rebels in August, after his duties with the Rangers are complete.