he Chicago Blackhawks announced the hiring of Steve Poapst to become an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. Poapst has been the head coach and general manager of the Chicago Steel in the USHL since 2006.
"Steve's deep experience and knowledge will help assist our strong commitment to the development of our young talent in the organization," said Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman.
After taking over coaching duties of the Chicago Steel midway through the 2006-07 season, Poapst led the team to a 32-22-6 record in his first full campaign behind the bench in 2007-08. That mark represented a 20-win improvement over the prior season and helped Poapst earns honors as the USHL Coach of the Year. His overall coaching record in the USHL stands at 95-108-15 and leads the Steel organization in all-time coaching victories.
More than 40 players that Poapst has coached in the USHL have earned NCAA Division I scholarships and eight others have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft, including 2009 first-round pick John Moore (21st overall) to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As a player, Poapst attended Colgate University and helped the school win the ECAC Championship in his junior season and earn the program's first trip to the NCAA Frozen Four. The defenseman went on to a 15-year professional career, playing more than 1,000 games, including 307 at the NHL level with four teams. He made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals during the 1995-96 season and scored a goal in his first game. Poapst spent the majority of his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks (2000-04), appearing in 220 games, while also having stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.
The native of Cornwall, Ontario won an ECHL Kelly Cup Championship in 1992 with the Hampton Roads and two years later won an AHL Calder Cup Championship with the Portland Pirates. Poapst was inducted into the Pirates Hall of Fame in 2001 after playing 454 games for the club.
Poapst is the fifth USHL head coach since the end of the 2009-10 season to earn an advancement opportunity in hockey. Jon Cooper became a head coach in the AHL (Norfolf Admirals) after leading the Green Bay Gamblers for two seasons, Kurt Kleinendorst was named head coach of the AHL's Binghamton Senators after leading the Team USA U18 squad in the USHL, Jeff Blashill was named head coach of Western Michigan University after coaching the Indiana Ice for two seasons, and Mike Guentzel joined the coaching staff of the University of Nebraska-Omaha after spending this past season with the Des Moines Buccaneers.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)