ALBANY, NY – The New Jersey Devils announced today that they have renewed Albany Devils Head Coach Rick Kowalsky’s contract for two seasons. The announcement was made by New Jersey Assistant General Manager and Albany General Manager Tom Fitzgerald.
Kowalsky, 44, is the reigning Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award winner as the AHL’s most outstanding coach. During the 2015-16 season, he guided the AHL Devils’ to their best record in franchise history, while managing a roster that saw only four players skate more than 50 games. Albany’s 46-20-8-2 record for a .671 points percentage finished ranked third in the AHL and second in the Eastern Conference. The team advanced to the Division Finals for the first time in franchise history.
“We are excited to have Rick continue to lead the development of our young players in the AHL and at the same time compete for a Calder Cup,” Fitzgerald said. “Rick has established himself as one of the top coaches in the AHL and we are certain he will continue to operate at a high level. We now have a strong sense of stability among our NHL, AHL and Developmental Coaches.”
Since being appointed to his current position prior to the 2010-11 season, Kowalsky has produced a 217-179-26-38 record with a .541 points percentage in 460 games coached. He is the third longest tenured coach in the AHL behind Roy Sommer (San Jose) and Ken Gernander (Hartford). This past season, Kowalsky earned his 200th career AHL victory during a 3-2 overtime victory on Feb. 14 against Bridgeport.
As the bench boss of the New Jersey Devils top developmental team, Kowalsky has helped develop more than 50 players who have played for both Albany and New Jersey. Players he helped mentor include Joseph Blandisi, Reid Boucher, Seth Helgeson, Adam Henrique, Keith Kinkaid, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson and Scott Wedgewood.
Kowalsky joined Albany after four seasons as head coach of the ECHL’s Trenton franchise, posting a 138-122-28 record for a .528 winning percentage. He was the recipient of the 2009 John Brophy Award as the league’s top coach. He was named to the position May 8, 2006, after spending one year as an assistant coach with Norfolk (AHL).
Kowalsky’s professional playing career spanned 12 seasons, and included six teams/two leagues in North America. A right wing, he captained the ECHL’s Trenton Titans to the 2005 Kelly Cup Championship in his final season as a player. Kowalsky participated in the 1995 and 2003 ECHL All-Star Games, serving the North team as captain in 2003. He totaled 221 goals and 329 assists for 550 points and 979 penalty minutes in 516 career regular-season ECHL games with Hampton Roads, Trenton, and Roanoke. Kowalsky served the Express as player/assistant coach while compiling career-high 83 points in 2001-02. He made his pro debut with Cornwall (AHL) in 1993-94. Kowalsky was Buffalo’s tenth choice, and 227th overall selection in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. He helped lead Sault Ste. Marie to back-to-back OHL Championships in 1991 and 1992, and captained the Greyhounds to the 1993 Memorial Cup Championship.
Born March 20, 1972 in Simcoe, Ont., Rick and his wife, Debbie, have three children: Dylan, Sydney, and Ryan.