Heading into the Rochester Americans’ 65th season in the American Hockey League, there are a lot of changes being made here in the Flower City. Arguably the biggest change to come this offseason is that of the new coaching staff that we’ll be seeing behind the bench at The Blue Cross Arena come the Amerks 2020-21 season.
From top to bottom, Rochester has three new faces leading the charge in head coach Seth Appert and assistant coaches Adam Mair and Mike Weber. All three of these new individuals have personal experience playing the game of hockey, coaching in various leagues across North America and having some type of connection to Rochester from their previous endeavors. Here’s a quick look at just exactly who these three newcomers are, ranging from where they grew up to what they’re most excited about come their arrival to Rochester in this Amerks coaching preview.
Head Coach, Seth Appert
Former Position: G
Birthdate: Aug. 9, 1974
Birthplace: Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Playing Experience: Appert is a product of the NCAA, having been a four-year letter-winner as a goaltender at Ferris State University from 1992-96.
Coaching Experience: Appert has a long history of developing players at all levels. He has spent the last three years as a head coach within USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP), where he alternated the head coaching duties between the Under-18 Team and one with the Under-17 Team.
During his first season with the NTDP in 2017-18, Appert guided the Under-18 Team to a gold medal at the Five Nations Tournament. The team also finished the season with an Eastern Conference-best 41-18-0-1 record, the team’s best finish since joining the United States Hockey League.
In 2018, Appert led the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team to a silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship. The year prior, he helped guide Team USA to a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach and served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship. He also had two stints as head coach (2008, 2011) and one as assistant coach (2007) of the U.S. National Under-18 Select Team that competed in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Prior to joining USA Hockey, the Cottage Grove, Minn., native spent 20 years in the NCAA Division I coaching ranks, including 11 seasons as head coach of the men’s program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Appert guided the team to an appearance in the 2011 NCAA Tournament following a 20-win season before leading RPI to its best finish in more than two decades just two years later with a second-place finish in the ECAC standings.
Appert, who formerly served as president of the American Hockey Coaches Association, also spent nine seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Denver, where he helped the Pioneers to a pair of NCAA National Championships as well as three WCHA playoff championships and two WCHA regular-season titles.
Personal Scouting Report: “I’m an energetic, passionate, honest, but optimistic coach. I think there’s a balance there because you have to be honest with your players in terms of what they need to get better at, but I am an optimist by nature. I do look for the best in people and try to bring that out in them. But competitive, aggressive, compassionate and together are mottos and keywords that really stick in my mind of what I’m about but what I want our team to be about as well.”
Looking forward to the ROC: “I’m just really excited to be there. I’m excited to get to work with the Sabres and with the Americans. I can’t wait to get a chance to meet everybody in person that works for the Americans. I can’t wait to meet the fans because I know what a great and passionate fan base we have. Those are the things I’m most excited about and I’m really looking forward to getting after it with everybody.”
Assistant Coach, Adam Mair
Former Position: RW
Birthdate: Feb. 15, 1979
Birthplace: Hamilton, Ontario
Playing Experience: A fourth-round pick (84th overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1997, Mair spent the bulk of his 13-year pro playing career with the Sabres, playing a significant role in the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007. He finished his career with 114 points in (38+76) in 615 NHL games with Toronto, Los Angeles, Buffalo and New Jersey as well as eight points (3+5) in 35 playoff contests.
He also added 120 points (53+67) over 172 American Hockey League appearances for the St. John’s Maple Leafs, Manchester Monarchs and Springfield Falcons, including a career-high 49-point campaign as a rookie during the 1999-00 season. Internationally, he led Team Canada to a silver medal with two points (1+1) in seven games at the 1999 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Coaching Experience: Prior to serving as player development coach for the Sabres over the last five season, Mair spent two years as a coach at the Academy of Hockey and two years as the director of player development at Canisius College in Buffalo, joining the program shortly after his retirement following the 2011-12 season.
Mair made his pro coaching debut this past season when he served as an interim assistant coach for Rochester’s first 18 games of the 2019-20 campaign, helping the Amerks go 12-3-1-2 over that span and maintain a first-place standing in the American Hockey League’s North Division.
Personal Scouting Report: “I’m going to be a lot like I was when I was a player – I’m going to be extremely hard working, competitive, passionate to win but also I’ll be detailed and prepared. I think those are the two areas, that when it comes to working with our players and putting development and game plans together, that I’m excited about and I’m someone who likes to learn.”
Looking forward to the ROC: “Getting behind the bench, seeing the passionate fans of Rochester and being a part of a big team win. I think that ‘together teamness’ is important and it’s something we’ve talked about as a coaching staff as one of our biggest tendencies – being together and being together as a group for that first big win.”
Assistant Coach, Mike Weber
Former Position: D
Birthdate: Dec. 16, 1987
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Playing Experience: A second-round pick (57th overall) of the Sabres in 2006, Weber recorded 53 points (9+44) and 437 penalty minutes while playing all but 10 of his 351 NHL games for Buffalo prior to a brief stint with the Washington Capitals.
Weber also totaled 51 points (8+43) in 237 career AHL games, most recently serving as team captain of the Iowa Wild in 2016-17. He made his pro debut with the Amerks in 2007-08, his lone season in Rochester, and would spend a majority of the following two seasons with the Portland Pirates, leading the team to a playoff appearance in 2010 after a career-high 21 points during the regular season.
He was rewarded with a trip to the AHL All-Star Classic in 2010 before going to spend the next six full seasons in the NHL.
Coaching Experience: Weber transitioned into coaching with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League midway through the 2017-18 season following an 11-year playing career as a defenseman.
Prior to embarking on his pro coaching career, this past season Weber guided the Spitfires to a third-place finish in the OHL’s West Division with a 34-20-8-0 overall record and what would have been their fifth straight playoff appearance prior to the cancellation of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Personal Scouting Report: “Relentless in my efforts, hardworking and bringing huge energy to the rink every day. My favorite saying is, ‘There’s never a bad day in pro hockey,’ there should never be a bad day in pro hockey in general. Coming to the rink every day, there should be a sense of pride and a sense of urgency to win the day.”
Looking forward to the ROC: “Obviously, getting there will be exciting in itself, but being with the team and being with the staff. I’m a big team guy. That was one of the biggest things was staying in the game and you always want to be in the locker room with the guys and with your group that you have.”
(Rochester Americans Photos)