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Farewell and good luck, Jim Paek

As Paul noted, long-time Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek has been named the head coach of the Korean National Team this morning, and Paek spoke with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner about the move:

Paek will remain with Grand Rapids through next week, and serve as lead instructor for the Griffins’ annual youth hockey camp at Griff’s IceHouse.

“It was a really hard decision,” said Paek, who was in Seoul for three days last week. “Detroit and Grand Rapids, that’s been pretty much my whole career. Nine years. My family is here and it has been everything to me here.”

The Detroit organization and Griffins coach Jeff Blashill will begin a search for a new lead assistant. The Griffins are also still looking to replace second assistant Spiros Anastas, who left after the season to become coach at University of Lethbridge.

Wallner continues, and I really mean this when I say that it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Quick update: Via RedWingsFeed, the Griffins posted a press release regarding the news:

PAEK ACCEPTS POSITION AS HEAD COACH OF KOREAN MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday announced that longtime assistant coach Jim Paek has accepted a position as the director of hockey for the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) and head coach of the Korean Men’s National Team.

Paek, 47, was the longest-tenured coach in franchise history, having served behind the Grand Rapids bench for nine of the team’s 18 seasons (2005-14). A native of Seoul, South Korea, who was raised in Toronto and earned his U.S. citizenship in 2011, Paek played an essential role in the development of players during his time with the Griffins, including many current and former Detroit Red Wings.

Paek helped guide the Griffins to a Calder Cup in 2013, the American Hockey League’s regular season championship in 2005-06, and a cumulative 357-272-33-46 record (0.560) during his nine seasons. Furthermore, his influence helped Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill earn the 2013 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for 2013-14, when the Griffins compiled a 46-23-2-5 record. Paek will conclude his tenure with the organization next week (July 28-Aug. 1) by serving as the lead instructor for the Griffins’ annual youth hockey camp at Griff’s IceHouse.

The KIHA, a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), is the governing body that oversees ice hockey in South Korea. In April, the association hosted the 2014 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A tournament in Goyang, a prelude to the 2018 Winter Olympics that will be held in Pyeongchang.

Under Paek’s leadership, South Korea will attempt to earn its first-ever Olympic hockey berth and the right to compete in the sport’s grandest international event on home ice. Paek is already familiar with at least one member of Korea’s national team, left wing Brock Radunske, who played 20 games for the Griffins during the 2006-07 campaign. A native of Kitchener, Ontario, Radunske gained South Korean citizenship in 2013 and became the first non-ethnic Korean to represent the country in international sport.

“The Detroit Red Wings congratulate Jim Paek on his appointment to the Korea Ice Hockey Association and Korean National Team,” said Ryan Martin, assistant general manager of the Red Wings. “We are thrilled and excited for him on his well-deserved opportunity. With the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, this is a tremendous opportunity for Jim to oversee the development of hockey players, coaches and administrators across all levels of hockey in his native South Korea.

“As the longest-tenured coach in Grand Rapids history, Jim has been instrumental in the development of many current Red Wings, including Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Tomas Tatar, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, to name a few. Jim won two Stanley Cups as a player with Pittsburgh and a Calder Cup as a coach in Grand Rapids. He possesses a wealth of experience as a player and coach at all levels, as well as a strong passion for hockey development. Jim's multi-faceted skill set will be a great asset in leading the Korea Ice Hockey Association in developing its national programs.”

After winning consecutive Stanley Cups as a defenseman with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992, Paek earned the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s prize for the third time in 2008 after coaching the Red Wings’ “black aces” during the parent club’s title run. He has continued assisting Detroit during the playoffs while also maintaining roles during the Red Wings’ summer development camps and fall prospect tournaments and training camps.

As the first Korean to both play in the NHL and have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, Paek has his Penguins jersey displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. During five seasons in the NHL (1990-95), he tallied 34 points (5-29—34) and 155 penalty minutes in 217 games with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Ottawa, and he had the distinction of counting both Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky as teammates.

Paek began his professional career with a three-year stint in Muskegon, Mich., during which he helped the IHL’s Lumberjacks win the 1989 Turner Cup. He added a fourth and final cup to his playing resume in 1999 as a member of the IHL’s Houston Aeros.

Upon retiring in 2003, Paek was named head coach of the WHA2’s Orlando Seals, guiding the club to a 27-25-5 record in 2003-04 and coaching in the league’s all-star game. In 2004, he served as an assistant coach for the St. Edward (Cleveland) High School team that won the Ohio state championship, and co-coach of the Cleveland Panthers bantam minor squad that captured the Eastern Elite Amateur Hockey League title.

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Comments

w2j2's avatar

The Wings will greatly miss Jim Paek.  He has been for many years a rock-solid coach in the organization, intent on developing young players.  Ryan Martin says it all.
“Director of hockey for the whole country of Korea” is an amazing position.
This is another example of a Red Wings’ alumnus going out and influencing the hockey world.
Godspeed, Jim Paek!

Posted by w2j2 on 07/23/14 at 08:51 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Not that Paek would have turned this opportunity down under any circumstance, but I dont think that his departure is much of a surprise after not getting a chance to be Griffins head coach during his career there.

Posted by Hootinani on 07/23/14 at 09:05 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.