The Utah Grizzlies, Phoenix's new American Hockey League affiliate, will name Coyotes assistant coach Pat Conacher as their head coach at a news conference Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
Conacher, 44, has been a Coyotes assistant since February 2001, when close friend and former teammate Wayne Gretzky took over as managing partner. He served under Bob Francis, and then interim coach Rick Bowness after Francis was fired in February.
Conacher replaces Marty McSorley, whose contract was not renewed after two seasons with Phoenix's former affiliate club, the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons — who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.
Falcons assistant Gord Dineen, who won a pair of Turner Cups when the Grizzlies were in the now-disbanded International Hockey League (1995, 1996) and remains very popular in Utah, will be Conacher's lone assistant coach this season. Dineen played 345 NHL games.
Elsewhere, Marc Habscheid, coach of the Memorial Cup champion Kelowna (British Columbia) Rockets of the Western Hockey League, released a statement Monday indicating he is leaving the team “to pursue another opportunity.'' The Coyotes are still evaluating candidates, including Bowness, for their vacant head coaching position, and Habscheid has been among those mentioned as possible candidates.