Peca helped the Amerks reach Eastern Conference Finals this past season
(Rochester, NY) – Rochester Americans assistant coach Michael Peca has been named an assistant coach of the New York Rangers. Peca will work alongside newly appointed head coach Peter Lavoilette and his staff, which also includes former Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley.
“What an amazing two years,” said Peca. “What a privilege to spend them working in Rochester for such a historic franchise. I will miss our fans dearly. Thank you to the Sabres organization, especially Kevyn Adams and Jason Karmanos for allowing me to be a part of the Sabres family again. Working alongside Seth Appert and Mike Weber has been two of the most enjoyable and memorable years I’ve ever spent in the game of hockey.”
“Thank you, Apps, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your staff. The players are so fortunate to have a coach with so much love and passion in seeing them succeed. You’re a rare human and I am so fortunate to have had a seat next to you for two years. No one has more fun than we do!”
“Thank you to our video coaches, development staff, the equipment and medical staffs— you are all amazing! Thank you to the Amerks front office for being so welcoming and supportive. We all succeeded together! The entire journey was a true blessing. I can’t thank everyone enough to truly show how much these last two years meant to me. The players I got to work with were the cherry on top! A group of the greatest humans I’ve been around in a very long time. Thank you all and best of luck to all in the future!”
Peca, who oversaw the team’s offense during his two seasons (2021-22 to 2022-23) with the Amerks, helped the team to back-to-back playoff appearances, including the team’s historic run to the Eastern Conference Finals this spring.
Peca was instrumental in the development of the Sabres’ top prospects over the last two years, most notably Jack Quinn, Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen, the team’s first-round picks in each of the last three years, as well as 2020 second-round pick JJ Peterka.
Kulich led the Amerks with 24 goals in 2022-23, the second-most by an 18-year-old in the history of the American Hockey League, and finished the season 11th in rookie scoring with 46 points in 62 games. He also won a silver medal with Czechia at the 2023 IIHH World Junior Championship and was named to the AHL’s inaugural Top Prospects Team for the 2022-23 season.
Quinn and Peterka were the AHL’s most dynamic scorers during the 2021-22 campaign, each earning a selection to the AHL All-Rookie Team and Quinn winning the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial award as the most outstanding rookie. The Amerks also finished third in the league in power-play efficiency under Peca in 2021-22, scoring 65 times on the man-advantage for a 23.5% conversion rate that was tops in the North Division.
He also worked extensively with some of the organization’s top offensive prospects, including 2022-23 Amerks MVP Brandon Biro, Linus Weissbach, and Brett Murray.
Peca spent the 2020-21 season as a player development coach with the Washington Capitals under Laviolette, working primarily with the players on the taxi squad.
Prior to joining Washington, Peca served as general manager and director of hockey operations for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for five years following two seasons as the team’s head coach from 2012-2014. He posted a 69-28-11 combined record in 108 games, leading Buffalo to back-to-back West Division titles and consecutive playoff appearances while also earning OJHL Coach of the Year honors for the 2012-13 season.
As a player, Peca’s professional playing career spanned 14 seasons and 864 games in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. A four-time 20-goal scorer, he recorded 465 points (176+289) and added 34 points (15+19) in 97 playoff contests while twice guiding his team to the Stanley Cup Final, including in 1999 as captain of the Sabres.
The Toronto, Ontario, native is also a two-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, given annually “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” He was first awarded the honor following the 1996-97 season, becoming the first Sabres forward since Craig Ramsay in 1984-85 to win the award. He was the recipient again just five years later in 2001-02 as a member of the Islanders.
Originally a second-round selection (40th overall) of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1992 NHL Draft, Peca spent the majority of his 14-year career with the Sabres, during which he scored 96 goals and notched 121 assists for 217 points over 363 games from 1995-2000. His tenure in Buffalo was highlighted by three 20-goal seasons, including a career-best 27-goal campaign in 1998-99, and four straight playoff appearances between 1997-2000.
He made a return visit to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 with Edmonton before retiring following the 2008-09 season.
Peca also played parts of two seasons (1992-93, 1994-95) in the American Hockey League with the Hamilton Canucks and Syracuse Crunch, totaling 43 points (16+27) in 44 games.
Internationally, Peca is a two-time gold medal-winner with Team Canada. After leading the Canadians to gold at the 1994 IIHF World Junior Championship, he won his second gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He also represented Canada at the 2001 IIHF World Championship, serving as team captain.
(Rochester Amerks Photo)