Hurricanes hire Mark Morris to lead AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes announced on Friday that the team had hired Mark Morris as the head coach of its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.

It was the next move that Hurricanes executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis made this offseason as the team’s upcoming Prospect Camp begins on Monday.

Francis had indicated earlier in the week that he wanted to have the AHL coaching staff in place to begin working with the team’s young players.

“Mark is an experienced head coach whose teams never had a losing record in 21 seasons at Clarkson and with Manchester,” Francis said.

“He is a proven teacher of the game who has been a part of developing successful NHL players.”

In addition to Morris’ hiring, Carolina had re-signed Geordie Kinnear as Charlotte’s assistant coach to work with the new bench boss in the Queen City.

Morris, 57, spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.

Prior to that, he spent eight seasons as the head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, compiling a career regular-season record of 338-224-66.

He owns Manchester’s franchise records for regular-season games coached (552), wins (338) and post-season 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, completing a stint during which coached a number of players 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 Hurricanes forward Erik Cole, Willie Mitchell, Craig Conroy, Jonathan Quick, Alec Martinez, Kyle Clifford, Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle, Tim Jackman and Teddy Purcell.

On the college level, Morris led Clarkson University to a record of 306-156-42 in 504 career regular-season games, and a playoff record of 39-19-1.

He holds Clarkson 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.

Before assuming his position with Manchester, Morris gained experience as a special assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach with the Vancouver Canucks, as well as serving 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, NY, Morris, a former defenseman, skated collegiately at Colgate before playing professionally for New Haven (AHL) and Dallas (Central Hockey League).