Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Clark Donatelli Installed as Head Coach

It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Wheeling Nailers Head Coach Clark Donatelli has been named the 10th Head Coach in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins team history.

From the team’s press release…

“Clark Donatelli brings a wealth of head coaching experience and has been with the organization for five years,” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton general manager Jason Botterill. “Donatelli has helped develop 11 players in Wheeling that are currently on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster.  Coach Donatelli and Associate Coach Jay Leach will make a dynamic team that will continue the path set by Mike Sullivan.”

Donatelli, 50, is Wheeling’s all-time leader in coaching wins, posting an overall record of 133-109-9-20. He is also the only coach in Nailers history to take the team to consecutive playoff appearances.

Jay Leach stays on and is named Associate Head Coach. Under Leach’s guidance, the Penguins went 3-0-0-1 in four games, including three shutouts.

Before I get to my thoughts, some tweets regarding the hire…

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My guess as to how all of this came about is as follows. This all started when John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine both left for the NHL in the summertime. Donatelli probably applied for the job here in Wilkes-Barre and was given strong consideration. However, with the uncertainty of then head coach Mike Johnston up in Pittsburgh, Mike Sullivan comes in to coach the squad here in Wilkes-Barre, a guy with NHL coaching experience. Thereby, leaving Donatelli in Wheeling and Johnston in Pittsburgh to his own fate. Johnston is fired, Sullivan hired to replace him and automatically Donatelli becomes the number one guy for the job on Coal Street from the whole, “promoting from within” philosophy.

That’s how I see it. I could be 100% out in left field, and it wouldn’t be the first time, but that’s how I see it.

Take nothing away from Jay Leach and the job he did here. I don’t know how you could have auditioned anymore perfectly than he did in his four game tryout if you want to call it that. The Penguins shutout opponents three out of the four games where Leach was Head Coach. As Tom Grace used to say, “it’s OK if you like perfect.” After Johnston was fired and Sullivan hired to replace him, I don’t think there was ever a situation where Donatelli wasn’t going to become the head coach, it was simply just a matter of when.

Ex-Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins Captain Dave Gove will take over the interim head coaching duties in Wheeling for the time being while the Nailers search for a new head coach.

Donatelli’s first piece of business as the new man in charge is the 11-time Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears at Giant Center this Saturday before a Sunday afternoon home game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Let’s Go Pens!

One response to “Clark Donatelli Installed as Head Coach

  1. Cyguy December 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Yeah, I think either Rutherford or Botterill mentioned Donatelli by name in the presser after Sullivan’s departure.