Former New York Rangers and New York Islanders defenseman, Thomas Poeck was named the head coach of the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League on Friday.
The Austrian blueliner, played four years at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst before having a fourteen-year career in the pros. Poeck will have huge skates to fill behind the Pride bench, as he replaces former Harvard University and United States Women’s National team assistant coach, Bobby Jay.
Jay led the Pride to back-to-back Isobel Cup Finals, putting up a 30-4-1 record in the first two seasons of the young league. He also helped the Pride hoist the inaugural Isobel Cup in 2016.
Poeck said, “It is great to be back in the Boston area with my family, to have the privilege of coaching these talented women and to be part of an outstanding franchise like the Pride. I have had the chance to work with many excellent coaches over 14 years in the pros and believe I have a lot to offer these players. Together we are going to work hard to bring the Isobel Cup back to Boston.”
During the four seasons, he played for the Rangers (2003-2004, 2005-2008) and one he patrolled the blueline for the Islanders (2008-2009), he was known as Thomas Pock. He said, “We never got the two dots over the O in my name right on my jersey at the beginning and it was not a big deal so I just lived with it.”
The past four seasons he spent playing in his native Austria, in the Austrian Hockey League, Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (translation: First Bank Hockey League).
The undrafted defenseman, also spent time in the American Hockey League with the Hartford Wolfpack (2004-2005) and the Lake Erie Monsters (2012-2013), as well as the ECHL, with the Charlotte Checkers (2004-2005).
Poeck and his wife, reside in Wilmington, Massachusetts with their three children. The two of them met at UMass-Amherst.
He added, “My daughter is four, loves to skate and loves hockey. The NWHL gives young girls a reason to dream of being a pro someday. My goal after returning from Austria was to stay in hockey. This worked out perfectly. I am going to give my best to the Pride and the league.”
Jay said in a statement, “It was a tremendous honor and privilege to coach in the NWHL and to lead the Pride! I have a tremendous amount of respect for the ladies I coached and they always gave me and the franchise everything that was asked of them and more. Unfortunately, my full-time job has required more of me. And on a personal level, raising two young girls, it became more difficult to commit to the more time and energy the Pride need and deserve.”
He continued, “I will definitely miss coaching the Pride, but I believe in the National Women’s Hockey League and its players. I will be an excited fan as the NWHL continues to grow! Lastly, I want to thank the fans in Boston for all of the support they gave our team and the league.”
NWHL Commission, Dani Rylan added, “Over two years, Bobby Jay made an everlasting impact on the Boston Pride and the NWHL. His passion for the game is contagious and he is one of the best people you could ever hope to work with. We wish Bobby and his family the best.”
Poeck, as well as the other coaches and general managers will to continue to get to work as they prepare their organizations for the third season of the NWHL, which is scheduled to begin in October.
The restricted free agency period will be finishing up at the end of May as teams can then sign any unrestricted free agents beginning in June. The 2017 NWHL Draft will take place on August 17.
All four teams, Pride, New York Riveters, Connecticut Whale and defending Isobel Cup Champions, Buffalo Beauts will play their full slate of home games during the 2017-2018 NWHL season. They will also have a handful of neutral site matchups, as the league tries to showcase the game in other markets.